500,000 People in MA on Food Stamps
July 24, 2008, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Life, Tips

Food Stamps use is soaring in Massachusetts. According to this article, rising food prices and the fact that it’s now easier to apply for food stamps has led to tons more people on food stamps. Is that a bad thing? I mean, the rising prices is obviously bad. But if people are applying for food stamps and they are eligible, it’s better that more eligible families are able to apply for and receive assistance. Of course, the problem is still that “the maximum food stamp assistance for a family of four in May was $40 short of what the government estimates a family of four needs for a basic diet.”

Also, I found this awesome article on the 20 Healthiest Foods for “Under $1” (quotes added by me).


July 15, 2008, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Recipe, Restaurant

We just cooked our last meal in our current apartment. We’re actually moving next Monday, but we’ll be too busy to cook from now on. Our final meal? Blue cheese and roasted red pepper polenta, topped with tomato basil sauce. It sounds so fancy, I can’t believe we made it at home. It was delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever even eaten polenta, let alone make it. Actually, Brian made it and I navigated directions. The polenta was lengthy, requiring constant attention and stirring, but we made it the night before to save some time. Today all I had to do was cut it into squares to saute, and make the sauce which was super easy. The polenta by itself had a really strong blue cheese flavor and was rich, but the tomato sauce and strong basil flavor balanced it out perfectly.

I’ve been cooking with that basil all week. I’ve ever made basil last through so many recipes. Usually I just make pesto with it, throw it in the freezer, and call it a day. We bought it on Saturday and made steak sandwiches with blue cheese and basil. Sunday, we made scallops with pasta, tomatoes, zucchini, and basil. Monday, salmon with basil topping. Tuesday (today) the polenta. I would make pizza with it tomorrow, but there’s still a ton of polenta left. Hooray for basil!

Someone took me out to lunch today. We went to the highly overrated, “This is where college kids bring their parents” restaurant called Judie’s. I ordered half of a fried soft-shell crab, on top of a mini-burrito stuffed with goat cheese, black beans, and carmelized onions and the whole dish was topped with fruit salsa. It was decent but just too… much. Too loud, kind of generically salty tasting. Judie’s is kind of like the dining version of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. They just throw a bunch of crap together, call it “premium” and sometimes it’s appealing in that trashy way. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything exactly wrong with my meal but people talk about this place like it’s amazing, but you can get much better food for the same price right across the street. My crab lunch cost $15, which is the same as the lunch entrees at Chez Albert. But if I had suggested lunch at “The Chez,” people would’ve been like “ooohhhhhhmygosh that’s tooooo expensive.” Well good. Let those people go to Judie’s and leave the tables at The Chez open for me.

**edit** The next day for breakfast, I fried up some polenta and topped it with a sunny-side up egg, salsa, and hot sauce. I don’t think there’s any breakfast place in the Valley where you could get something like that.

Farmers’ Market
July 12, 2008, 2:14 pm
Filed under: Shopping Day

As much as I enjoy the idea, I rarely shop at the farmers’ market. I need to plan my meals & recipes and then go shopping, and that’s much harder to do when I’m never sure what will be at the market. Plus, I can’t use food stamps there.

But this morning, the smell of the fresh basil & garlic were just too much to resist. I bought a bouquet of basil, a pint of baby squash (so cute!) and a beautiful (and expensive) loaf of artisan bread. We have some leftover steak in the fridge I think we might use the bread to make steak sandwiches for lunch. As for the basil, I’m thinking margherita pizza, orzo salad, and simple pasta with basil & tomatoes. I’m going to look up recipes for other things to do with basil besides pasta.

I didn’t have my camera with me, but a restaurant had a little food stand where they were serving up fried squash blossom stuffed with goat cheese & other things. It was only $3 for one and all I wanted was a taste because I’ve never eaten a squash flower before. The squash flowers were a pretty orangey-yellow color, but they didn’t taste too “flowery.” It was very subtle. The goat cheese filling was a strong flavor, and I like the combination of green onions + goat cheese. I’m glad I got to try it. I also had their lavender mint iced tea. So good. Lavender really rounds out the mint nicely. I wish I could grow mint because I love mint tea.

I’m moving in about a week and after that I can do more farmers’ market shopping. I won’t be on the food stamps anymore, and Providence has tons of different markets; there’s probably one somewhere every day of the week.

July 7, 2008, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Eeeeee! I was randomly flipping through the channel guide and the new season No Reservations begins tonight. Anthony Bourdain goes to Laos! My origins!

I’m not one of those girls who is into “bad boys”. I prefer them kind of geeky and chic. But Anthony Bourdain, “Tony” as I like to call him in my mind, is kind of my bad boy (and old man) crush.

July 7, 2008, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Life

My co-worker gave me organic lettuce from her garden today. Almost all of my co-workers have gardens and/or CSA shares and they always trade vegetables and talk about what went into their fresh lunches that day. I’m the only person in the office who is not up in that. I like good food obviously, but I’m not that interested in what goes on behind the scenes. I don’t like spending time in nature generally, I don’t do CSA shares because it’s too much work to pick the vegetables and figure out what to do with “weird” veggies, and I roll my eyes at white people who think berry picking is a fun activity because I grew up among immigrants (mostly teens and the elderly) who were paid $3 for every 12-pint pack of berries that they picked in the June-July sun. Sooo does that make me a lazy foodie princess?

Anyway this bag of lettuce shows up in a handy paper shopping bag that once held Via Spiga shoes (that’s more my style!). I was grateful but I was surprised and confused. What? It doesn’t come from a store already misted with water? It’s not in a flimsy plastic bag or my cotton vegetable bags? I stared at it and wondered if I should put it in the office fridge (I didn’t).

After I got home I was all sweaty from the bus, so I stuffed the whole bag into the fridge. Five hours later, I thought I should put the lettuce into something more appropriate so I stared at it again. And I was reminded that because it was fresh picked from the garden, it was still really dirty. Full of visible dirt. I would have to soak it multiple times in the sink, which means I would have to clean my sink first of course. It sounds like so much work! I’m actually really ashamed at how much I didn’t want to clean the lettuce.

Maybe as I grow older and get more experienced with food, my opinions on going closer to the source will change. I’m just not ready to get dirt under my fingernails! Right now I’m only ready to pay a billion times markup to buy it at the store.

On the other hand, I do love the smell of the produce section at Whole Foods. It must be a combination of the better quality produce and smaller space, because the regular Stop ‘n Shop produce section doesn’t have that wonderful smell.