Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

Lemon Spinach Couscous Salad November 30, 2009

Filed under: easy,salads,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:42 pm

when life hands you lemons, give 'em to the kids

betta with feta

Tis the season for Texas citrus and spinach.  Visiting the Sunset Valley Farmers Market this past Saturday we found a mountain of meyer lemons for sale.  2 for $1 grade A and 4 for $1 bird-pecked.  The kindergartner picked 8 from the pocked patch.  And Cora Lamar’s famous triple-washed savoy spinach, grown at Oak Hill Farm in Poteet, beckoned on Turkey Day despite the traditional table.

Now that (thankfully?) Thanksgiving’s dwindled middens have made room for the rest of Central Texas’ generous cool-weather bounty, you can relax and whip up this easy, brightly flecked and flavored dish, sized for a crowd.  Just in time for yuletide merrymaking.

LEMON SPINACH COUSCOUS SALAD makes a large, “entertaining size” batch

  • 2 teaspoons organic or local olive oil.  Try Texas Olive Ranch.
  • 1 smashed organic garlic clove
  • a pinch or so red pepper flakes, to taste
  • zest of 1 or 2 organic and/or local lemons
  • 1 10-ounce bag Oak Hill Farm triple-washed spinach—$2.99 a bag at Central Market, or other local spinach, washed well if necessary
  • 2 cups organic couscous.  Most bulk departments stock this.
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • zest of 2 organic and/or local lemons
  • ½ teaspoon salt.
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon organic butter.  Organic Valley of course.  Use your Whole Foods Whole Deal coupon for $1 OFF or click here for a coupon to use at another location.
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice from your organic and/or local lemons
  • 3 Tablespoons organic or homemade white wine vinegar.  I like Spectrum.
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turbinado sugar.  I buy this in bulk at Central Market.  Don’t forget to bring your own container.
  • about 2 teaspoons kosher salt–trust your taste. I use Diamond Crystal brand.
  • 1/3 to ½ cup top-quality organic (or your favorite Texas-grown) extra virgin olive oil.  I love Spanish Villa Blanca, not too preciously-priced at $9.49 for a 17-ounce at CM.
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • several scallions, sliced (optional)

Cook the spinach:  In a very large (I use a 6-quart) saute pan or skillet heat the olive oil with the garlic and red pepper flakes.  When they start to sizzle add the lemon zest and spinach, in batches if necessary.  Stir and fold the spinach around the pan until well-wilted.  Remove from the pan and spread out on a plate to cool.

Cook the couscous:  In the same pan (don’t even bother to wipe it out), bring the water and next four ingredients to a boil over high heat.  Dump in the couscous, give it a thorough stir and quickly put a lid on the pan.  Remove the pan from the heat and let the couscous steam itself for 5 minutes.  Take the lid off and fluff up the couscous.

Mix the Dressing:  Combine the lemon juice and vinegar and stir in the sugar and salt.  Whisk in the olive oil.  Season with black pepper.

Assemble the Salad:  Chop the spinach and stir it into the couscous.  Pour the dressing over the mixture and toss well, tasting for tartness (add more lemon if needed), sweetness (add sugar—organic granulated—if necessary), and salt and pepper.  Lastly, gently fold in the cheese.  Serve cold.  Keeps well in the fridge if you’ve a mind to makin’ it ahead.


Take these Waffles and Stuff ’em! (in your stuffing hole) November 29, 2009

Filed under: breakfast,easy,leftovers,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:32 pm

two small waffles for mankind

We eat stuffing all year round.  It’s a delicious and thrifty way to use up stale bread, which we accumulate in the freezer. When the “old bread for stuffing” bag is full, I bake up a batch.  No tellin’ what’ll end up in the pan:  assorted vegetables, nuts, cooked grains and meats (bacon!).  Mix ‘n’ match bread types for hybrid vigor.

What are you gonna do with that leftover Thanksgiving stuffing?  Today’s Sunday, so make waffles!


  • 1 stick (4 ounces) organic butter, melted and cooled a bit.  You know I love Organic Valley.  Use a Whole Foods Whole Deal coupon for $1 OFF or click for a coupon to use at another store.
  • 2 cups yogurt (homemade is great), buttermilk or a 50/50 combo of yogurt and milk (stir it up and let it sit while the butter melts).  I buy local goat milk from either Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm.
  • 2 local eggs
  • about ½ teaspoon salt, to taste.  I use Real Salt.  I get this in bulk at Whole Foods.  You can bring in your own jar.
  • sweetener to taste.  For a cornbread dressing version (baked with unsweetened cornbread) I use 2 Tablespoons local honey (Good Flow).  For a (regular) bread stuffing version, I’ll use maybe 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar.
  • 41 grams (1/3 cup) organic all-purpose flour.  WF 365 brand in the 5# bag is usually the best buy.
  • 41  grams (about 1/3 cup) whole wheat flour.  I use either organic or Richardson Farms locally-grown.
  • 40 grams (about 1/3 cup plus 1½ Tablespoons) organic whole wheat pastry flour.
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder, sieved.  I like Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, sieved.
  • freshly ground black pepper, optional
  • 2 cup leftover stuffing, chopped.

Whisk together the yogurt, eggs, salt and sweetener, then whisk in the melted butter.  In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients, through the black pepper, and whisk until mixed.  Whisk the stuffing into the yogurt mixture, then whisk in the flour.  Let the batter rest, covered,  in the refrigerator for about an hour.  Bake in a greased, preheated waffle iron.  Timing and batter amounts will vary depending on the size and design of your iron.  I prefer a deep-pocketed Belgian-style waffle iron for most of my waffle recipes and I recommend that style for this one as well.

Organic maple syrup tastes great on these savory waffles.  Or, pour gravy on em!  We already ran out.  Leftovers only stretch so long.


Greening Turkey Day–Homemade Rolls November 24, 2009

Filed under: bread,Dai Due,easy,HOPE market — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 8:08 pm

Great Goose Grease!

I picked up a pound of Dai Due‘s famous country style breakfast sausage (stick some in your stuffing!) this past Sunday at the new HOPE market.  Open from 11am to 3pm, this new market fit snugly into our schedule and we were thrilled to see our old friends Edgar and Gayle (and their gorgeous bell peppers!) from Finca Pura Vida.

Dai Due was also hawking goose fat, one of my favorite shortenings.  Mild and soft, goose grease gives excellent flavor and texture to your homemade rolls.  I’ll be cranking out my traditional recipe on Thursday.  It’s an old reliable standard and you can substitute duck fat, quality lard (such as Dai Due’s), or an honest compatible oil for the goose fat.

SOFT DINNER ROLLS makes one dozen

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast—NOT Instant or Bread Machine or Rapid Rise
  • ¼ cup warm water—a little above body temperature
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar.  I buy this in bulk at Central Market.  Don’t forget to bring your own container.
  • ¾ cup plus 2 teaspoons local milk .  I use goat milk from either Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm.
  • 6 Tablespoons organic butter, cut up.  I love Organic Valley.  Whole Foods has OV on sale for $4.99 per one pound box.   Minus their $1 OFF Whole Deal coupon, you can buy just about the tastiest butter around for only $3.99 a pound!  Or click for a coupon to use at another store.
  • 2 Tablespoons goose fat.
  • 1 local egg
  • 12 ounces (2 ½ cups plus 2 Tablespoons) organic all-purpose flour.  WF 365 brand in the 5# bag is usually the best buy.
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) whole wheat flour, either organic or Texas-grown Richardson Farm‘s.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt, available in bulk at Whole Foods.  Bring a container!
  • 3 Tablespoons organic butter, melted, for shaping the rolls

The method here is standard yeast-dough procedure.  Proof your yeast in the warm water with a pinch of the sugar.  Scald the milk, remove from the heat and add the butter and goose fat.  Let cool to just warm.  I like to use my stand mixer (or bread machine) to knead dough, so I put the dry ingredients into the bowl, then dump in the liquids (including egg) and let ‘er rip.  Kneading with the mixer should take about 7 to 10 minutes to develop a soft, smooth dough.  You can also knead it by hand, but I have a harder time changing diapers and rescuing the toddler when I’m up to my elbows in dough.

Place the dough into a large buttered bowl and roll it around a bit to lube the entire surface.  Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and let the dough rise for an hour or so, until doubled.  Press the dough down with your hands and let it rest for 5 minutes while you prepare to shape the rolls.

Divide the dough into 12 equalish portions.  I admit to frequently using a kitchen scale for this step, but it’s not crucial.

I usually shape the rolls into knots, as in this totally unflashy (but better than my currently non-existent) video.  Sometimes I also shape double knots.  Place these rolls onto a lightly buttered baking sheet.  An easy method for shaping is the “cloverleaf”.  Simply form each roll portion into three little balls and place them in well-buttered muffin tins (1 roll=3 balls in one muffin cup).  Brush the formed rolls, whatever their design, with the melted butter.   Cover them with plastic or an overturned large roasting pan and let rise for about 45 minutes, until puffy and approximately doubled.

Bake the rolls in a preheated 375º oven until evenly golden brown and done, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Serve piping hot with great butter.


Greening Turkey Day–Soup

Filed under: Austin Farmers Market,easy,fast,soup,vegetables,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 7:57 pm

sweet potatoes in the pot

soup's on!

Thanksgiving’s trottin’ up fast.  My Turkey Day celebrations have changed dramatically since having a couple of kids.  It’s been years since I’ve made a homemade pâté de campagne or boned out a duck.  I let friends and relatives take over most of the cooking now.  I contribute what I can manage and there’s still plenty to go around!

Today’s the last day for HEB’s incredible deal on Texas sweet potatoes at 19¢ a pound, as well as specials on Texas green beans for 77¢ a pound (casserole!) and Texas apples—cameo (love those cameos) and fuji—going for $1.27 per pound.  Put a pomme in you pie or add apples to your stuffing.

In the years BC (before children) I always cooked up a Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Soup as one of the big meal’s starters. My Thanksgiving spread showcased New World foods, and this recipe, with its sweet potatoes, jalapeño, tomato juice and peanut butter, kills four birds with one tureen!   I won’t be making it this year, but folks with a little more time on their hands (this is an easy soup) can enjoy this rich, warming precursor to the main event.

PEANUT BUTTER SWEET POTATO SOUP makes about a dozen small servings

  • 1 Tablespoon oil or fat of choice
  • 2 cups chopped local onions–choose your colors
  • 2 or 3 teaspoons grated fresh organic ginger root
  • a couple or so cloves of garlic, minced.  Local has about dried up.  I go for domestic organic.
  • 1 local jalapeño.  Leave whole if coddling delicate palates.  Otherwise, chop it up!
  • 1 rib of organic celery, chopped.  Local isn’t available yet—Edgar of Finca Pura Vida says it’ll be about three weeks.  But you’ve probably already bought this holiday cooking staple, anyway.
  • 1 cup chopped organic carrots.  Inexpensive year ’round, another holiday must-have.
  • a couple sprigs of fresh thyme.  This herb’s easy to grow (most are), but you can buy fresh Texas-grown herbs at Central Market and our farmers markets.  Thyme and sage are Thanksgiving essentials!
  • 1 bay leaf—I love fresh (been growin’ it for more than a decade) but dried will do.
  • 2 cups or so chopped Texas sweet potato.  I use one medium-sized.  I usually don’t bother to peel them.  That’s up to you, though.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups organic tomato juice
  • 1 cup organic smooth peanut butter.  I prefer the “natural” (i.e. not “no-stir”) for this recipe.  Use what you have.
  • turbinado sugar to taste, up to 1 Tablespoon (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped local green onions.  I’ve been enjoying Hairston Creek Farm‘s lovely scallions lately.  If you didn’t buy any this weekend you can still shop for all kinds of local produce (and meat and eggs and dairy) at the Austin Farmers Market at the Triangle this Wednesday, with extended hours from 3pm to 8pm.  Put a little local on your table!

Heat up the grease in a big soup pot and saute the onion over medium heat just until translucent.  Add the rest of the aromatics, through the bay leaf, and saute a couple minutes more.  Dump in the sweet potatoes, salt and water, turn the heat up high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Carefully puree the soup, adding the tomato juice and peanut butter, in your blender until smooth—exercise caution when blending hot liquids.  Return the blended soup to the pot and taste for sweetness, adding turbinado sugar if necessary.  Reheat over low heat until warmed through.

Serve generously topped with the green onions.  For a main course,  ladle over Lowell Farms Texas-grown organic jasmine rice.


Happy Waffle Day! Texas Sweet Potato Waffles November 22, 2009

Filed under: breakfast,easy,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:13 pm

Texas Wafflin'

We eat homemade waffles almost once a week around here, usually on Sundays (Waffle Day!).  If you’ve stocked up on Texas sweet potatoes (on sale through Tuesday at HEB for 19¢ a pound), and roasted three or so in your toaster oven—they’ll keep for a good week in the fridge—you can whip up a delicious seasonal treat to get your morning off to a great start.


  • 1 cup local milk.  I use Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm goat milk.
  • 1 cup local or organic yogurt.  I use homemade.
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) organic butter.  I love Organic Valley.  At Whole Foods you can use their Whole Deal coupon for $1 OFF.  Or click for a coupon.
  • 3 ounces (about ¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon) organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 ounces(½ cup) local (Richardson Farms) or organic whole wheat flour
  • 3 ounces (about ¾ cup minus 2 teaspoons) organic all-purpose flour.  WF 365 brand in the 5# bag is usually the best price.
  • 2 1/8 teaspoons baking powder, sieved.  I recommend Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, sieved
  • 3/8 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 3/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • about 2/3 cup baked Texas sweet potato, skin included
  • 1/2 cup toasted Texas pecans.  Get yourself some of the new crop.
  • 2 local eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons organic dark brown sugar.  I think Whole Foods is packaging their own brand now.  Should be the best buy.  I’m still working on my bag of Wholesome Sweeteners.
  • heaping ½ teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt.
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  I like Nielsen-Massey.  They make several varieties and forms including organic.
  • zest of 1 Texas orange.  Use a rasp or box grater.

Combine the milk and yogurt and let sit while you prepare the rest of the recipe.  Get the butter melting on low heat.  Combine the dry ingredients (pastry flour through spices) in a bowl and whisk together.  Put the milk/yogurt in a blender with the sweet potato and pecans and blend until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients (eggs through zest, plus melted butter).  Dump the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk together just to blend well.  Don’t overmix.  Let batter rest in the fridge, covered, for about an hour.

Bake on a preheated (hot!) waffle iron until done.  The size of your waffles and the cooking time will vary depending on the waffle iron design.  Enjoy with organic maple syrup—Shady Maple Farms is still on sale at Newflower Market for only $17.99 a quart (grade A dark amber and grade B).


Sweet on Sweet Potatoes November 21, 2009

Filed under: cake,dessert,easy,glittereati,vegetables — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 7:23 pm


Texas sweet potatoes are on sale this week (through Tuesday) at HEB for only 19¢ a pound.  I got mine’s!

I don’t know how anybody can eat that marshmallow-coiffed concoction, by the way—a Thanksgiving standard, I know.  But there are so many delicious and respectful ways to handle a sweet potato, that to me, to mash up such a farce is to commit an injustice to this most tasty and nutritious of vegetables.  I don’t usually go turning my nose up at tradition (well, actually, I guess I mostly do), but as much as I enjoy sweet potatoes, I can’t eat that casserole.  And I love casseroles.  And marshmallows!

I am sweet on sweet potatoes, I insist.  So get your dessert on!

SPIRITED SWEET POTATO CAKE: makes one 10″ layer

  • 252 grams (1 cup) mashed Texas sweet potato
  • 2 local eggs
  • 150 grams (¾ cup) organic sugar.  Central Market’s Organics two-pound bag is still $2.99.
  • 52 grams (¼ cup) organic light brown sugar.  I buy CM Organics two-pound bag for $2.99.
  • ¼ teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt.  You can purchase this in bulk at Whole Foods.  Bring your own container and have them tare the weight at the info desk.
  • ½ cup neutral flavored 0rganic oil or pecan oil
  • 3/8 cup yogurt.  I use homemade.
  • 2 Tablespoons dark rum or homemade vanilla rum, or your favorite bourbon (or homemade vanilla bourbon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or an additional teaspoon of homemade vanilla booze
  • 1 Tablespoon Texas orange zest.  Use a rasp or your box grater.
  • 182 gams (1 ½ cups) organic all-purpose flour.  WF 365 brand usually sells for the best price.
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder, sieved.  I recommend Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda, sieved
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup toasted chopped Texas pecans.  You’ll find the new crop at our farmers markets now.  Or check out Navidad Farms on your way to the Austin Zoo.

The weather’s just right for turning up the heat, so set your oven to 350º and get it goin’.

Line a 10″ X 2″ round cake pan with parchment or waxed paper and grease and flour the interior.  I advise using a baking strip for this larger layer.  If you don’t have one, check out this cute tutorial on DIY strips.  I also recommend using a new technique I learned recently from Beranbaum‘s Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. Place a greased rose nail pointy end up (flat end touching the bottom of the pan) in the center of the batter to conduct heat to the middle and help the cake bake more evenly.  Genius!  If your kitchen lacks these helpful tools, just mound  the batter up around the sides of the pan a bit so the center is shallower.  That will help.

Mixing up the batter is more straightforward.  First, whisk together your dry ingredients (flour through the nutmeg) in a bowl and set aside.  Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (my preference) or a hand mixer, break up the eggs and then whip them up on medium high speed with the sugar and salt for a couple minutes, until very light in color and fluffy.  Quickly beat in the sweet potato, then beat in the wet ingredients and zest.  Add the dry ingredients and mix them in, pouring in the pecans as you go.  Give the batter a final blending with your flexible spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl, and turn the mixture out into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cake tests done—stick a bamboo skewer or toothpick between the rose nail and the sides of the pan, slightly closer to the rose nail.  Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a butter knife or metal spatula and unmolding.  Push out the rose nail from the bottom.  If batter collected underneath the flat end, carefully peel the thin cake piece off and either replace it onto the baked layer or eat it.  You can disguise that shallow pock with icing or just let it be.  Depends on the occasion!

I can eat this cake (and practically anything else) with butter, but you’ll find a range of glazes and frostings to be complementary.  From a quick lemon juice/powdered sugar icing (perfect this time of year), to a vanilla or orange buttercream or cream cheese frosting, or even a light chocolate glaze or ganache.  Savory to dulcet, marvel at the endless versatility of Texas sweet potatoes!


Glittereati–Another Sparkling Gateau

Filed under: cake,glittereati — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:43 pm

Glittering in circles


disco daze glaze