Mary Beth Writes

This is not a recipe blog. You may sometimes wonder what kind of blog this is, but I bet you have figured out we’re not here to cook. Still, sometimes I come across amazing recipes and today I want to share two of them,by referring you to the sites where I found them.

How do I find these sites, you ask? 

Simple. Google the name of two or three ingredients you would like to use up. This takes you to recipes that use those foods; you decide if you want to try them.

Sometimes this Wild Exploration doesn’t work. The roasted sweet potato and carrot soup two weeks ago was a recipe that didn’t fledge.

But these two are good and I’ve made them several times.

The first is for Tuna, Bulgur, and Caper salad. http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/bulgur-salad-with-tuna-and-capers/3461/

Yes, I had bulgur in the pantry. I can’t remember why I bought it in the first place, maybe for tabouleh. Bulgur is cracked and par-boiled wheat berries - so if you are gluten-intolerant this probably won’t work for you (maybe with barley?) Bulgur is not expensive. The four main flavors in this recipe that make it so amazing are the roasted bulgur, tuna, lemon, and capers. You will see there are other flavors; garlic, onion, and whatnot.  I don’t think I’ve used ALL the proper ingredients exactly as listed yet. Worse, I tend to use lemon juice from a bottle (the horror!) instead of from fresh lemons. Still tastes awesome.

This is an interesting explanation of bulgur: http://sanaacooks.com/2013/02/what-do-you-know-about-bulgur-tomato-bulgur-pilaf/  Four- and five-year olds chasing crows off the roof?  All the ones who don’t fall off must really enjoy this.

Anyways, I don’t top this dish with the tuna, I mix it in. Fresh herbs are great. Dried will work.

There is a LOT of nutrition in bulgur; protein, magnesium, Vitamin-6, and a lot of iron – all those things female bodies (especially) need to make healthy blood and healthy bones. Add in the tuna and the other sprightly ingredients, a person could handily make this for fast lunches or to bring as a salad or side dish to dinner at someone’s house. (Well, only if they invite you first, I suppose.)

About capers. You can buy them in your grocery store capers aisle (next to the mad-cap rom-coms). OR you can save upwards of $1-3 per year by gathering nasturtium seed pods at the end of summer; put them in a jar of cider vinegar in the refrigerator. I chop the capers to get that piquant caper- flavor in every bite.

I’ve been waiting for an occasion to use the word piquant.

I’ve made this for company dinners several times, as well as for just us.  http://www.sarahwaldman.com/artichoke-tart-with-polenta-crust/

Polenta isn’t hard to make, you just need to hang out in your kitchen so you can follow the instructions and stir the cornmeal mush every two minutes.  To get the polenta into the tart pan (or cookie sheet, or the bottom of a sheet cake pan); oil your fingers to simply just push, flatten, and then build up the crust edges.

I’ve made this with goat cheese but also with cheaper feta; canned artichokes, parmesan out of the green canister. This stuff is elegant and also – wait for it - piquant.

Sometimes the world gives us way too much high fructose corn syrup and drive-through salt and all the rest of those things that taste so good going down, but are not, in the long run, our friends.  I thought I’d share possible foods that are just as addictive - which are actually healthy for us and our kids and our friends.

Do you have unusually delicious, healthy, inexpensive and fancy recipes?

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What's in Vanilla?

I just read a flurry of emails on a frugal website about the rising cost of vanilla and how people are working around that while continuing to live their frugal lives.

Not one of the letters asked these logical questions.

Why has the price of vanilla risen so steeply?

What is happening to the people who grow and process it? 

"One must have sunshine..." Living Life Forward

This is another interview with a person who lives frugally and thoughtfully by design and by default. 

Thanks, Helle.

.....

How I met Helle Koustrup Berry tells you a lot about how she arranges her life.

Mindful Chickens a Month Later

(I just like the bison joke...) 

It’s been a while since I wrote a Mindful Chicken. 

Mindful Chickens are (for people who don’t know why I call them this) about TWO things.

  1. Being Cheap (cheep, cheep).
  2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

___________

ONE – I donated blood. Why is this frugal? A tech checks your blood pressure and temperature. They prick your finger to test for hemoglobin (iron) levels are normal or low.

Looking for Sincere and Heartfelt Tales

A while back I posted an article about my friend Franc; I talked about how he has created a good life for himself even though he has rarely earned more than $15,000 in a year. (Right here)

This article was satisfying to write. I enjoyed spending time with Franc and asking nosy questions. Yes, it’s a challenge to interview folks and then write about their lives, but I did this often in my 12 years as a newspaper columnist and I like the adventure of it.

Mindful Chickens - Chicago Edition

Mindful? Thinking about what we do around here to be responsible to the world and to ourselves.

Chicken? Cheep, Cheep, Cheap!

 You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a while. There’s been a lot going on – including this pleasure.  Len and I went to Chicago for several days to care for our granddaughter while our daughter and son-in-law went out of town.

Mindful Chickens on an Icy Night

My church has been working for months to organize their fund-raising auction that was supposed to be TONIGHT. But instead we are in the middle of the massive spring storm that is scrubbing the nation from Oklahoma to I don’t know where next. The wind is howling; rain is sleeting into snow over a glaze of ice.

So the auction is postponed until next Saturday evening. I have put in so many hours (as have many other) working towards this event in the past weeks - that being quietly at home not working on it makes me feel as if I won a lottery. 

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