La Belle Cuisine
Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion
cook is to create. And to create well...
Good grief, are they SERIOUS?!?!?
"Work like you don't need the money. Love like
you've never been hurt.
Recipe of the Day Categories:
Good grief, are they SERIOUS?!?!?
Yikes! No kidding. Have you tried to buy groceries lately? Even a couple of
months ago I would occasionally go into my routine at Walmart. 911! 911!!!
You've gotta be pulling my leg, there's no way this stuff could cost THIS much.
This is WALMART, for cryin' out loud! Like, I'm not in Los Angeles shopping
at some boutique grocery store with valet parking, right?
Well, what can I say? Prices have now reached a ridiculous level. They make
June's prices look like a walk in the park. We're talking a pretty normal version
of a Super Wal Mart in La Place, LA, not in La Jolla (!) or Aspen. And they're
charging $1.44 for a 15-ounce can of Le Sueur "Very Young Small Sweet Peas".
No way! Way. And I can't even remember how much they were asking for plain
ole ordinary ground beef! Hamburger! I just walked away in disgust. Chances
are I have blocked out the price per pound. I do know I would have had to pay
over $5 for a "normal" package. That's what the "911!" is all about... there's
no way this is happening. Obviously I have gone off the deep end...
Yes, it's true. I do have what I choose to call "discriminating" taste. Some folks
just think my taste is downright expensive, if not totally extravagant. Why don't
I buy Brand X generic sweet peas? Simple. I don't LIKE them. Despite the fact
that I was raised in a relatively low-income family, I was taught to know the dif- erence between excellent, good, mediocre, and totally unacceptable. I'd much
rather have a bowl of good navy bean soup (and cornbread!) than a serving of
lousy generic canned peas on my plate. And chances are you've noticed the
price of frozen vegetables, not to mention fresh organic produce... Merciful
Father! I had to give that up months ago!
Okay, so gas is not over $4 a gallon... not here anyway, and not today. But
chances are we all remember when we were freaking out that the price was
rapidly approaching $2 a gallon, right? And that was not so long ago!
So just exactly what is going on here, anyway? I certainly don't know. Sad to
say, but I am not at all sure that anyone out there really knows. The economic
gurus appear to be circling their wagons. I really do hope that there is some-
one among my faithful readers who can make some sense out of this crisis -
not so much in terms of an explanation as in terms of a solution. (And if so,
please do let us know!)
In the meantime, what are we supposed to do? Tighten our belts, right? That's
what my grandparents always used to say. "Times are hard. We'll just have to tighten our belts." That really doesn't make any more sense to me now than it
did then, because starches are a lot cheaper than protein, vegetables and fruit.
And we all know that eating a starch-based diet winds up making us loosen our
belts, not tighten them.
Despite finding myself "telling it like it is", my goal here is to offer you not
only words of encouragement during these tough times, but practical advice
as well. I've given this a great deal of thought over the past several weeks.
What food IS cheap these days? Have you found any? Seriously. You can rule
out hamburger and chicken, that's for sure! It ain't like I've been eating steak
and rib roasts and now I've got to sacrifice and buy pot roast! Let's get real
here. Rice and corn are not cheap, either, or canned tuna. Check out the price
of a can of condensed soup and see what that does for you! So much for tuna casserole! (Husbands everywhere are cheering!)
So. Where does that leave us? I suppose it means cutting corners in every
way we can, and trying our best to look at things from a relative point of view.
Maybe what we really want is Beef Stroganov, but the best we can manage at
this point is Mom's Meatball Stroganoff or Gigi's Hamburger Stroganoff or Nelsonian Beef Stroganov. We could do worse. Much worse!
I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I'm doing my best to come up with
some recipes that don't cost us an arm and a leg. And as much I love good
bean soup (I really do!) a little variety would make our task much easier,
and certainly more palatable!
Let's start with the bean soup though. Very basic, classic, traditional bean soup
(the kind both of my grandmothers used to make on a regular basis) is simple and
to the point. You start with a pound of dried beans (navy, Great Northern, pinto, etc.), rinse them in a colander in case of any grit, place them in a soup pot/kettle
and cover them with about 6 inches of water, then soak them overnight. Or if
you're pushed for time (like some of us are not????) you may choose the "fast-soak" method: Place the pot of beans and water on the stove, bring to a boil,
covered, then turn off the heat and let them stand for 1 hour, still covered, They
are now "soaked". My grandmothers always added some kind of meat, although
you certainly don't have to. It could have been a ham bone, hog jowls, pork neck
bones, or maybe pieces of bacon rind... And by the way, have you noticed that
you can buy bacon "ends and pieces"? You certainly don't have to buy expensive
bacon to make soup. You'll be paying more than enough for whatever meat you
buy! The idea of the meat is to add flavor. And certainly there would be at least
1 chopped onion and maybe some chopped celery. A word of caution though -
please do not add salt to this soup until shortly before serving, otherwise the
bean skins will be tough. Simmer the bean soup, covered, stirring occasionally,
for about 2 1/2 hours or so. Be sure to keep the heat low. As with any home-
made soup, you can jazz this up as much as you want. You may choose not to,
though, as beans have a delicious flavor all their own.
And just in case you think world-renowned chefs look down their stuck-up noses
at the lowly white bean, think again. Don't miss this white bean soup taken to the
next level! Wow!
Following is a favorite family recipe, which we have come to call
Why "German"? Well, because it has potatoes in it, and
because this is
About 1/2 cup or so chopped bacon
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot or kettle or Dutch oven, sauté
the bacon in
And while we're talking Old-Country soup, let me just
throw in another
Rough translation is Racer Soup. Race-car-driver
Hamburger (even for a lot of soup, you
* Readily available in Germany. Any combination
That's it! Just sauté the meat in a bit of oil, add the diced
So where does that leave us? I'm not sure. As for me,
I'm doing my best to hang
That hold us for a while... at least until Thanksgiving!
Be well, stay safe,
unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into
"As you go through each day, are you mindful of
the little blessings
seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love,