Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

receipts, recipes and quick cocoa cake May 28, 2009

Filed under: cake,fast,microwave,whole foods — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:07 pm

It probably goes without saying but ALWAYS check your receipt!  Maybe the baby won’t let you review it right away or–ideally–scrutinize as your order is rung up.  But don’t forget to get to your bill as soon as you are able to focus.  Besides overcharges on both sale and regular priced items, be aware of possible mistakes such as sales tax charged on non-taxable food products.  For example, cocoa powder and chocolate baking bars are NOT taxable in Texas.  And double check that any coupons you have tendered are properly credited.

I’m enjoying Dagoba organic cacao (cocoa) powder right now.  Dagoba’s organic chocolate products are Fair Trade Certified and the company practices what they call “Full Circle Sustainability.”  Sounds good and tastes delicious!  I buy it at Whole Foods for $6.99 for an 8 oz. canister but watch out!  The last two times I’ve purchased this they have charged sales tax on it.  If you buy some, please remember to double check that the store has corrected this mistake and hasn’t added that 58¢ to your total.

I don’t really cook in my microwave (although I’ve looked into it and continue to keep an open mind) but I certainly utilize it frequently.  Some folks have strong feelings about these appliances but I enjoy the convenience of course and it can use much less energy for a lot of kitchen tasks.  And it doesn’t heat up the house.  So when you get home with your tantalizingly fragrant Dagoba cocoa powder, you can make these funny and tasty cakes.

Chocolate Microwave Mug Cakes    makes enough mix for 4 cakes

  • 121 grams (1 cup) organic all-purpose flour
  • 200 grams (1 cup) organic granulated sugar
  • 41 grams (1/2 cup) organic natural (not Dutch-processed) cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt

Mix ingredients together.  Now, for each large coffee mug put in 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons dry mix.  Using a fork, thoroughly mix in 1 large egg (preferably local).  Next blend in 3 Tablespoons milk (your choice),  3 Tablespoons oil (preferably organic) and a little splash of vanilla extract.  Stir in 2 or 3 Tablespoons chocolate chips (dark, milk or white, or peanut butter chips!).  The chips are optional but they improve the texture of the cake and their sweetness is welcome in this otherwise not overly sweet batter.

Place your mug (one at a time please) in the microwave and nuke it on high for 3 minutes.  The batter will dramatically climb up, souffle-style, and threaten to topple.  Fear not.

Put your mug on the cooling rack for a moment while you round up your spatula or butter knife.  Loosen the cake’s sides with your chosen implement and tump out the cake into a bowl.  It’s hot!

Cuddle up your cake with a scoop of ice cream or a large dollop of whoop cream.  Was that quick?  Now make one for your kid.  Or your spouse.  If they’re old enough maybe they can even make their own while you relax and eat yours!


Got’cher Goat Milk May 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 10:43 am

Finally!  Local goat milk from Wateroak Farms is now available at Sunset Valley Farmers Market.  They’re selling low-heat pasteurized 1 quart plastic bottles for $5.  Not cheap, but a fair price that helps ensure both a livable wage for the farmers and humane conditions for their animals.  I snagged up a bottle and of course made a batch of yogurt.  The fresh mildly goaty taste is yummy and the texture seems slightly looser than cow’s milk yogurt.  My 5 year old son didn’t even notice the switch.

Buying locally and humanely produced dairy products (if you’re not vegan) is one of the most important steps you can take to lessen your impact on the earth.  Of course, buying local also helps to reorganize the dangerously skewed structure of our food production and distribution systems.  Let’s regain our food liberty.  Without local and individual control over our food choices, people will not be free.

Please see the following links:


Yogurt–and Sour Cream May 22, 2009

Filed under: muffins — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 5:50 pm

spread the love

I make my own yogurt.  It’s easy.  My 5-year-old and I eat some every day, usually for breakfast.  I also use yogurt frequently in baking.  Most of the time you can replace buttermilk with yogurt in recipes.  Making my own saves money and allows me to use whichever milk I choose.  Go local, go organic, make fat-free, full fat or anything in between.  I haven’t tried alternative milks but check out this site for info on making soy yogurt.  I use Yogourmet starter and the best price I’ve found is Whole Foods at $3.98 for a six pack.  You can use a portion of a previous batch, instead of starter, (about 1/2 cup for a quart) to make a new batch but eventually you’ll need to refresh your stock with some starter.

I use a Salton 1 quart yogurt maker and I’ve never actually seen one at the thrift stores.  Frequently you can find yogurt makers there that make several small containers of yogurt although I prefer to brew an entire quart.  I purchased mine online for about $15 (Amazon) and it paid for itself in just a couple of weeks.

If you dig yogurt, make your own.  And if you dig sour cream you can make a yogurt version!  I usually use ½-n-½.  Whatever dairy liquid you choose, do it the easy way:  heat the milk up in the microwave.  Pour the milk into a 1 quart Pyrex measuring cup and program the microwave for 222 seconds.  Pour the heated liquid into a clean bowl and sprinkle the starter over the surface.  Go pick up the baby and come back to stir in the starter.  Next pour the milk into a clean 1 quart yogurt container and set it into the yogurt maker. That’s all!  I usually go for about a 24 hour yogurt.  Experiment to find your preference.

If you’ve made a batch of  “sour cream” try this recipe:

Pecan Muffins

  • 4 ounces (1 cup) organic white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/16 ounces (30 grams is easier for me to measure OR 1/4 cup) organic all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder–I use Rumford aluminum free
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly.  Use your WF whole deal coupon for $1 off Organic Valley.
  • 3 1/2 ounce (100 grams or 1/2 cup) sugar.  I use a little more than half granulated (Wholesome Sweeteners 10# bag at Costco is the best buy) and a little less than half light brown (CM Organics for the best deal).
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed Texas orange juice
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) sour cream
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
  • turbinado sugar, optional—the bulk turbinado at Central Market is gorgeous right now and the best deal at $1.49 a pound.  The bag actually says it’s demerara (a similar, but darker and more flavorful coarse, less refined sugar) from Wholesome Sweeteners.

Preheat your toaster oven to 400°.  Lube up your 6 cavity muffin tin however you choose.  Whisk together your dry ingredients through the allspice.  In a separate bowl whisk together your wet ingredients through the sour cream.  Pour the dry ingredients onto the wet and sprinkle on the pecans.  Quickly, gently and thoroughly stir everything together just until well combined.  Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for up to an hour if you can.  Fill your muffin cups (use an ice cream scoop!), they’ll be full.  Sprinkle with the turdinado, as much as you’d like, and bake about 12 minutes, reversing the pan halfway through, until the muffins test done.

These muffins are not too sweet, delicious warm with local honey—I love Good Flow’s wildflower, and some top notch butter such as Texas’ own Lucky Layla or Organic Valley Pasture butter.


clean bags, green bags May 19, 2009

Filed under: newflower market,Uncategorized — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 12:21 pm

Right now Newflower Market has a few unadvertized specials worth checking out.  Organic Valley heavy cream (my choice) is $2.99 a pint.  Shady Maple Farms organic maple syrup, grade B or grade A dark amber, is only $17.99 a quart.  This is a great deal because maple syrup prices are climbing.  Get it while you can still afford it.  Organic bulk almonds and walnuts are $6.99 a #.  Don’t forget to keep a couple of clean plastic produce type bags in your reusable shopping bag (leave one stashed in the car!).  Then you’re always ready for bulk bargains and small loose produce (think Texas  green beans, on sale at NM for 99 ¢ per #).  If family chaos interferes with your plastic bag washing efforts just throw them in the laundry.  Really!  Air dry them and you’ve saved some plastic.


broccoli bonus May 17, 2009

Filed under: cake,thrift,vegetables,whole foods — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 10:17 am
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yep. there's a carrot cake under those blossoms.

If you’re still buying broccoli at our farmers markets—cause you can—feel free to sneak some well trimmed shredded stems into your favorite carrot cake recipe.  It reminds me of the time in my college days when I saved up all my pickle juice to make pickle juice jello shots for a party.  Not in the interest of frugality, however.  Well a cold front just came through and it’s a wonderfully wet and cool May afternoon.  Local carrots continue to be available so I fired up the oven to bake a lower fat carrot cake.


Heat your oven to 350°.  Line a 13″ X 9″ pan with aluminum foil.  If you turn your pan upside down and drape and form your foil to the backside you can fit it neatly into the inside.  Grease the foil a bit however you prefer (spray, oil or butter).

  • 100 grams organic white whole wheat flour–about 1 cup minus 2 scant Tablespoons–(see “slow carrot cake”)
  • 203 grams organic all-purpose flour–about 1 2/3 cups–Unless a sale is going on, generally your bulk foods departments will be the best buy.
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs (preferably local or from your own hens)
  • 1 4-ounce jar of carrot baby food–I use Earth’s Best–Whole Foods printed coupons in their Whole Planet Foundation calendars for $1 off 10 jars (any flavor).  This is the best deal right now.  The calendars are technically sold out but you may find a stray one, as I did, loitering on some shelf in the store.  Snatch it up quick cause for $2 you get more than $20 in coupons for all sorts of products at WF.
  • 210 grams dark brown sugar (1 packed cup)–I use Wholesome Sweeteners brand, available at WF.
  • 1/2 cup (108 grams, usually easier for me to measure by volume) organic coconut oil, preferably extra virgin (unrefined).  I use a lot of this and WF sells their own brand in a large container that is usually the best buy.
  • 360 grams finely shredded carrots and finely shredded well peeled broccoli (about 3 cups); use at least 3/4 # untrimmed topless carrots
  • 1/2 cup medium fine chopped toasted Texas pecans (optional)
  • a little orange oil or zest, lemon oil or zest, and vanilla rum or extract (optional refinements)–see “slow carrot cake”

Whisk together your dry ingredients, through the salt.  With an electric mixer, whisk or egg beater (yeah that old-fashioned thing.  I love mine for small amounts of whoopin’ up), thoroughly combine your wet ingredients through the sugar.  Thoroughly beat in the oil.  Mix in the carrots then pour on the dry ingredients and top with the pecans.  Stir it all together quickly and gently til well combined.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake about 22-25 minutes until the center tests done with a wooden skewer.  Don’t overbake.  We don’t fuss with frosting unless we’re having an occasion.  No one will suspect the broccoli.  If your veggie haters are aware, they’ll put their scowl on as they wolf down piece after piece.  Not the same reaction I got with the jello shots, but I appreciate it just the same.


slow carrot cake May 15, 2009

Filed under: cake,slow cooker — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 9:40 am
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We don’t have much longer for carrots at our farmers markets.  So put that cooker outside and eat dessert in less than two hours.  This ingredient list looks long but the enhancements (orange, lemon, vanilla and pecans) are optional.

  • 181 grams organic whole wheat or white whole wheat flour (about 1 1/2 cups minus a scant 2 teaspoons)–Whole Foods carries the King
    Arthur brand 5# bag, the least expensive packaging I’ve found.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 168 grams local honey, (1/2 cup)
  • 1 stick organic butter, melted and cooled slightly–Organic Valley is my preference–use your Whole Deal WF coupon for the best price right now
  • 1 Tablespoon organic coconut oil
  • 1 drop orange oil or a small pinch of orange zest from a Texas orange (organic if you can afford it.  If not, then scrub your orange very well with some dish liquid or produce wash.  If you zest a few of your oranges during our citrus season and stash the zest in the freezer you’ll find yourself tossing it into all sorts of dishes.)
  • 2 drops lemon oil (Occasionally in season you may find precious meyer lemons at our farmers markets and of course it’s my dream to get my own tree.  You’ll find small trees for sale around town, too.)
  • 2 large eggs, preferably from the farmers market or your own backyard
  • 112 grams  finely shredded carrots, preferably local and/or organic
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla rum (steep a vanilla bean in a jar of rum–I use Flor de Caña Gold.  It’s ready to use in a couple weeks.  Leave the bean in there and top it off with more booze when necessary.)
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped toasted Texas pecans

Whisk together your dry ingredients (through the salt).  Whisk together your wet ingredients, through the vanilla.  Pour the flour mixture on top of the wet stuff, sprinkle the pecans around and whisk quickly and gently til well combined.  Pour the batter into a well greased (I use coconut oil) 4 quart round slow cooker lined with a round of parchment on the bottom.  Cook on High for about 1 1/4 hours, until the cake tests done (a skewer inserted into the center will come out clean).  Loosen the sides of the cake and pop it out.  Serve right away (or later).


slow artichokes part 2 May 12, 2009

What do you do with those giant artichokes on sale at Newflower Market (2 for $4, only one more day!)?  Yes, you can cook them in the slow cooker but you gotta cut them in half.  Otherwise you’ll be cooking them longer than you can stand it.  I use a large (6 quart) oval cooker.  Three of these big un’s just fit.

First load up your cooker with:

  • ½ cup white vinegar—Whole Foods (WF) 365 organic is the best buy I’ve found
  • about 6 cups of water
  • some celery leaves if you’ve got ‘em—Finca Pura Vida at Sunset Valley Farmers Market (SVFM) grows gorgeous celery leaves that keep well in the fridge, wrapped in a tea towel and cradled in a plastic bag.  OR a stingy to generous pinch of celery seeds, to your taste.
  • a strip or two of lemon peel—Central Market usually has the best price on organic lemons, not that they’re a bargain, but right now Sun Harvest has them on sale at $2.97 for a 3# bag.  OR if, like me, you bought a likely lifetime supply of lemon oil some years back, just add 12 drops
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 peppercorns
  • as many cloves of fresh garlic as you care for—Hairston Creek Farm at SVFM has it right now. peel them if you can, but don’t frustrate yourself.  Very fresh garlic is hard to peel.
  • About a tablespoon of kosher salt (I prefer Diamond Crystal) or half that amount of table salt (I go for RealSalt and WF sells it in bulk for the best price.

NOW, trim up and rinse your artichokes.  Check for guidance.  Next, stand your globe stem end up and slice it into two equal halves.  Just slice right down with a good sharp chef’s knife.  It’s easier than it looks.  If the baby’s sleeping go ahead and scoop out the choke.  Otherwise just remove that part at eatin’ time.  Cram the artichokes into your crock stem ends up.  Here’s the fun part for Central Texans:

Put the slow cooker outside!

The slow cooker doesn’t warm up the house as much as the pressure cooker (my usual artichoke cooking appliance) or the oven, but why even let that heat in?  Turn it on to High and check your chokes in about 8 hours.  They’re done when you can easily pull out a leaf, no resistance.  Eat ‘em hot or cold and don’t forget to eat the garlic.  We don’t fuss ‘em up further with sauces ‘cause they’re already seasoned.  And portable!


fastest kid’s lunch

Filed under: easy,fast,kid,thrift — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 5:41 pm
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I can make this one with the baby latched on.  Seriously.  Grab a flour tortilla, we like Central Market multi grain, top it with a little shredded cheese (cheddar from Full Quiver Farm at SVFM is just right) and pop it into the toaster oven.  (If you don’t own a toaster oven here in Austin I don’t know how you manage.  It doesn’t heat up the kitchen like your full size model and uses less energy.  Ours can bake a single layer cake or six muffins.  Of course it came inexpensively from the thrift store and it’s a good one.)  I  set my oven to “toast 1” which melts the cheese and softens the tortilla but doesn’t puff it up.  Puffing it up is fun and tasty but isn’t right for this “recipe”.  Meanwhile, mash up some Whole Foods 365 organic seasoned beans (spicy chili beans, spicy black beans, or ranchero beans.  They’re all great and cheap.) with a fork.  Put your warm and gooey tortilla on the cooling rack, load it with some beans or beans and rice combo (we always have a pot of cooked  Lowell Farms organic jasmine rice–grown in Texas!–in the fridge) and roll it up taco style.  When the baby falls off you’ll be ready to take your kid to school.


Appliance Theory

Filed under: bread machine,slow cooker,thrift — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 4:55 pm
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I hope you’ve discovered thrift stores.  They’re not just for collectors.  Many of my kitchen appliances have come—quite cheaply—from the resale shops.  The toaster oven (gotta have one in Texas), Cuisinart ice cream maker, Cuisinart mini processor ($2.50—really!), salad shooter (aka poor man’s food processor), both of my slow cookers, and, OK, almost all of my waffle iron collection.  Too many implements for me to remember, geez or even own, have come into my life via the thrift store.  Do you need a bread machine?  Depending on your requirements a used model may be just right for your kitchen and your budget.  For almost whatever you need, I advise a trip to your local used goods outlet.