Sunday, October 11, 2009

First Frost

We are expecting the first frost tonight here in Upstate New York and while I was outside all day picking and rescuing all of the basil and green beans I could, I was for the most part on the farm by myself.
For those of you not familiar, I am a member of a CSA and part of my share is produce that is too labor intense to be picked, so we have the opportunity to pick for ourselves. Sometimes the yield of certain crops is just so phenomenal in a particular season that the farmer will just open fields to everyone to pick unlimited amounts. Needless to say that that is an immense bargain right there, because you can truly pick to your hearts content and freeze anything that you can’t use right away for the winter months.
What is a bit strange is that in my experience with different CSAs over more than 10 years now, there is usually just a core group of members that will pick produce themselves, the rest never take advantage of this bargain. In my 200 member CSA - I would venture to say there are about 40 people more or less that will pick, and I think I am being generous here - the rest would rather not. Why? I have no idea!
And that brings us to a rather solemn point - whilst writing this there are literally 100s of pounds of green beans that will die tonight and the amount of basil that will freeze tonight would make enough pesto to supply all the restaurants of Manhattan for a month. Why does it have to go bad - I guess nobody really appreciated the amount of work and the resources that went into producing their share of basil and green beans - so they just let it rot…..

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Vegetarian on the Cheap - The Book

After an extended summer hiatus - at least I have something to show for myself. Vegetarian on the Cheap - The Book is ready for takeoff. I will post the link for an e-book version as soon as I have it ready but I thought I give you a preview of what will be featured:

Here is the index:

Chapter 1: Introduction: Why “vegetarian”, How “on the Cheap?”
A brief outline of vegetarianism in all its incarnations, from the timid occasional vegetarian to the die-hard raw food vegan. Is being a vegetarian even healthy for you? How you can save money going veg, when chicken substitute is three times more expensive than actual chicken.

Chapter 2: The 10 Secrets of the Bohemian Vegetarian.
Pst - don’t tell - this could actually be fun. Where do we go wrong and how can we do better. All about seasons, being your own boss in the kitchen and getting out of cooking the same old budget zapping meals over and over.

Chapter 3: Planning: Where and How to Shop to recharge your Budget.
Shopping - a tutorial. You are on a mission, ditch your hubby, your kids and your chatty friend and get to shop well. The bulk food section, your place of worship.

Chapter 4: To eat, or not to eat - Which foods give you the most bang for your buck.
Whether we like it or not some foods are just healthier than others. Yes, even fruits and vegetables have their nutritional superstars, whereas others merely fizzle. Find the 15 most affordable veggie super foods, the 10 fruits not to be missed and the 10 most affordable protein sources.

Chapter 5: Ye old protein myth - or how you’ll learn to stop worrying and love tofu, tempeh and seitan.
Yes, I will try to get you to embrace seitan. Also, what to do with tofu and what on earth is tempeh? Where will you get adequate protein, that won’t cost a fortune but will taste great?

Chapter 6: Carbs - Not the Enemy? The best carbs for your cash.
Carbohydrates are good for you, as long as you indulge in the right ones. A hit-parade of the most delicious and affordable grains from around the world from amaranth, buckwheat and corn to wheat and wild rice.

Chapter 7: Love food - hate waste. How to properly store and preserve your food.
What a bummer that organic spinach from the farmers market committed suicide right in your fridge! What did you do to it? Nothing? That is exactly your problem! Learn once and for all how to store your food. We will look at which foods should never go into your fridge and which ones will be fine in there for months?

Chapter 8: “Organic? You gotta be kidding! I can’t afford that!” - Wrong!
In an ideal world we all would eat only organic foods, right? Wrong - some foods are actually always organic, even if the label does not say so, and others are a bargain even if they are not organic! Find out who is who.

Chapter 9: Rent-a-farmer: All about getting your veggies on the cheap. Do something amazing for yourself, your kids and the local economy all whilst getting your veggies 50% off. Here is how. Where to find farmer’s markets, local farms and buying co-ops, and why they are such an amazing deal.

Chapter 10: Crock pot - the best pot you’ve ever had!
This is zero effort cooking. In spring, fall or winter this inexpensive kitchen appliance never leaves my counter. Make elaborate meals in minutes and save in the process. Recipes and tips on getting cooking done, even while you leave the house!

Chapter 11: Putting it all together: How to save money immediately!
Let’s start right now. All you need is a pencil! Answer a few questions and fill out this chart, and you will be ready to plan out the next two weeks worth of eating vegetarian on the cheap. We will incorporate new foods slowly, shop with confidence and eliminate dead end shopping, working with what you already have at home.

Chapter 12: A sweat deal: cookies, cakes and candy.
You have to have sweets! Recipes for world-class cookies, homemade candy bars and easy bake muffins and such.

Chapter 13: Kinder-garden - how to get your kids to go veg!
15 tips on making this change easy on your kids - you may be in for a surprise, being a vegetarian is considered quite cool in the kindergarden to high-school world!

Chapter 14: Around the world in eight cuisines: become a spicy recessionista and make something out of nothing!
Pack you bags, we are going Indonesian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Ethiopian, Moroccan and Caribbean, right in your kitchen.
Nothing screams “sophisticated” louder than exotic dishes from around the world. The big secret is that so many of them are super cheap to make. Learn about spices and how to make your own spice mixes in minutes, and impress your family and guests with flavorful meals that won’t make you smash your piggy-bank.

Chapter 15: Cosmetics, cleaners and the rest: Insane and Unheard-of Ideas to save.
Other ideas that can eliminate money hogs from your grocery list. The nitty gritty on cleaners, cosmetics and keeping you and your home clean for less.

So, I was able to go into depth in how we can really save some money - while being good to our bodies and to our planet. I have included a great number of recipes to get even the most timid cook started - all are no-nonsense no hard to find ingredients and no gimmicks recipes which get you well on the way - eating a varied, healthy and affordable way.
I am excited the book is finished and can't wait to hear some feedback!