Many obligations, one big pot

April 29, 2010 at 1:05 am 4 comments

Donate $5 to Capital Area Food Bank - it provides $25 in food for the hungry.

When the Hunger Awareness Blog Challenge started last week, I looked at the list of food from the food pantry and thought, well, that’s do-able. I’ll get a chicken. Potatoes, mmm, we could eat potatoes all week. Spaghetti, sauce; there’s a meal. Jalapenos, pintos, rice; another one. Factor in the  $50 SNAP allowance for things like eggs, tortillas, and spinach, and this could be decent eating.

Then there was a last-minute family trip, a drive from Austin to New Orleans and back, 66 hours that included 20 hours in the car, 22 hours of work on the house we’re hoping to sell there, and a couple of spider bites that led to groggy-inducing Benadryl dosage. I had to plunge right back into work when we got home, at the food bank and for my husband’s small safe-plastics company. An ongoing medical issue had to be dealt with. There were still things to be dealt with to be able to list the house, repairmen to find, house visits to schedule long-distance. My husband and I were both exhausted, wrung out and stressed out, ready for bed before the sun had even gone down. The idea of being creative with Tuna Helper or green beans was just too much. We weren’t even hungry.

So until today, all we’ve had so far is the chicken, roasted, a few bites here and there with some crackers before bed. Cereal for supper. Nothing inspired, nothing much at all. And in the meantime, I was being both impressed and intimidated by my fellow bloggers, who have been producing meal plans, delicious sounding recipes, such unexpected dishes as dumplings and cong you bing. I’d look at the list of blog entries and feel guilty for not even writing about why I wanted to take part in the challenge (spoiler alert: green beans play a starring role).

But Lisa Goddard, the online media director at Capital Area Food Bank, put it into perspective for me. “That’s a real story,” she said, reminding me that people of all income levels and needs lead busy lives, with unexpected twists and obligations. It’s one (unhealthy) thing if you can pick up the phone and order a pizza, or if you can stop by somewhere like Central Market to get the bits and pieces of a healthy take-out dinner on the way home from work. It’s another if you’re on a SNAP budget, if there aren’t frozen dinners in the freezer or extra dollars in the budget. What do you do then?

Tonight, I looked at the pile of food pantry cans and at the remains of the chicken and just started cooking. I stripped the chicken and sauteed the bits in olive oil in a big saucepan. Then I added one of the cans of spaghetti sauce, half a container of fresh spinach, some crushed red pepper flakes, and a couple of handfuls of shredded parm from the fridge. While it cooked down, I boiled up some spaghetti and opened an off-project bottle of Malbec. That was our supper. It was tasty, inexpensive, and comforting. And already we are ready to get some more sleep.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Austin Blog Hunger Force Green Beans: A Love Story

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aaron  |  April 29, 2010 at 1:47 am

    We all have difficult times in our lives at one point or another. This was a generously shared example of those hard times. Family and personal issues must always come first, and CAFB has shown how they can help in that.

    Every effort helps in the project. However big or small. And your example helps immensely.

    This was a GREAT post! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • 2. thedinnerhour  |  April 29, 2010 at 3:11 am

      Thank you, Aaron, for the kind words and understanding.

      Reply
  • 3. Austin Frugal Foodie  |  April 29, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Perfectly appropriate post! Amidst the noise of living, grateful bellies appreciate quiet nourishment.

    Reply
    • 4. thedinnerhour  |  April 29, 2010 at 3:12 am

      Nicole, thank you! I hope yet to live up to the standard that you and Aaron have set with this project!

      Reply

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Some of my cookbooks

In no order except for how they appear in my LibraryThing cookbook catalog: True Women Cookbook: Original Antique Recipes, Photographs, & Family Folklore, Janice Woods Windle (1997) * Made in Texas; H-E-B's 100th Anniversary Cookbook (2005) * The Texas Cowboy Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos, Robb Walsh (2007) * The Silver Palate Cookbook, Julee Rosso, Sheila Lukins (1982) * In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks, Ti Adelaide Martin & Lally Brennan (2007) * Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine, Daniel Boulud (2006) * Moosewood Cookbook : Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, Mollie Katzen (1977) * Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer's New Orleans, Susan Spicer (2007) * Saveur Cooks Authentic American: By the Editors of Saveur Magazine, ed. Colman Andrews (1998)

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