"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Cookbook in Progress

My experience writing, researching and formatting recipes and information for Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook was positive and educational. So, I have decided to write another one during 2014.

My approach is to research recipes online and in books. Right now, I am rereading The Complete Tightwad Gazette since the author, Amy Dacyczyn, offers frugal recipes and grocery shopping ideas. I am always inspired by her.

I am also perusing my Mexican Nueva Salsa cookbook by Rafael Palomino and Arlen Gargagliano. I am hoping to increase my repertoire with Mexican and Yucatán-inspired dishes.

Plus, I will dig into my recipe collections.

What usually happens is that I adapt recipes I feel I can handle to suit my tastes, my budget and my skills.

What readers of my Cookbook do not see are my little disasters.

For example, I had wanted to try to make "Stovies", which are really boiled potatoes. Sounds simple right?

Here's the original recipe:

8 red potatoes, peeled and cut in half vertically
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup butter
Place potatoes halves in a pot with 1/2 inch water or milk
Season potatoes
Cook on medium heat for 15-40 minutes

Ok, here goes, do I use water or milk? Because I was low on milk, I used half water and half milk.

I added olive oil instead of butter, and 1/2 a cube of chicken bullion.

Also, I have two medium, white Mexican potatoes.

After washing the potatoes with soap and water, I still worried about potato bacteria as I peeled the potatoes.

Then, I had to chase the half peeled potatoes across the counter because once they were peeled, they were slippery and hard to hold in order to cut in half.

After setting the potatoes in the milk/water broth, I seasoned them with pepper and garlic salt.

At 5:58pm, I turned the electric stovetop to "medium." Who knew really, since the dial had no indicators.

At 6:14pm, I realized I had turned on the back burner instead of the front burner. They are not marked. This time, I took white nail polish and marked the burners F or R, respectively.

Soon after, I checked the potatoes and the liquid was boiling, there did not seem to be a low setting on the stovetop.

6:18pm, Checked and found the potatoes cooking on low now, not done, not even close. Tried 4 different settings. Now I wonder if they are cooking at all. Tried another setting.

6:57pm, They are cooking at a low boil. Fine. They will be cooked thoroughly.

7:07pm, They are done. They tasted pretty good. I added a little bit more salt.

In the end, I always feel like I spent an inordinate amount of time cooking even a simple dish and then I face a sink full of dishes.

In Mexico, the real landlords are the ants. They send out tracker ants looking for microscopic morsels of food and then after communication is made, streams of ants come to help bring home the booty. So, cleaning up immediately is essential.

This is why eating out can be so attractive. But, as a frugal cook, I accept the challenge to continue to create a diverse menu of frugal, tasty, "healthy" meals.

Here are the ingredients I used: 

2 medium, white Mexican potatoes, peeled and cut in half vertically
about a cup of milk and water mix
1/2 cube of chicken bullion
black pepper
garlic salt
a dab of olive oil

add milk and water to pan to fill with 1/2 inch of liquid

add chicken bullion and stir
set potatoes in broth
season with black pepper, garlic salt, and a dab of olive oil

cook on low for 15-40 minutes until done
check to make sure they don’t stick

Ok, when I do this again, I will use a slow boil because the potatoes were hard and took a long time to cook on low.


I had 1 potato and the leftover broth from making the stovies. I poured the broth into a glass casserole dish; cleaned and peeled the potato and placed the two halves in the broth and seasoned. I cooked the potatoes in the microwave for 15 minutes and it came out --- drum roll -- Perfect!!!

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