Category Archives: DIY

The Plants Bore FRUIT!!

Ladies and gentlemen, not a single one of you will care about this as much as I do, but let me nonetheless try to impart my excitement.

 MY PLANTS BORE FRUIT!!! 

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SEE???? FRUIT!!!

 

And in case that was not sufficiently up close and personal: 

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FRUIT!!!!!!

Friends, let me tell you. I had completely given up hope. (Almost). And then, just like that, with very little effort on my part, those little beautiful cherry tomatoes appeared. 

Good one universe. You had me going there for a second. 

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Eating Cheap, Eating Well: Lentil Salad and BLT Salad

Well, after a week of my Eating Cheap, Eating Well personal challenge, there is still some food left in the fridge, believe it or not. Some of it is getting a little um, mature, shall we say, but I am among those who believe that food is good enough to eat as long as it smells right and tastes right.

So I pressed on with the challenge, pushing my 42chf grocery spree from last Monday to today.

Lentil Salad a la Alice Waters

You’ll recall last week I skipped a night of cooking to eat some leftover chili con carne. That night I had been planning to make a lentil salad, since we’ve had this bag of lentils in the cupboard forEVER. In case of war or crisis or, say, temporary poverty. So I picked up on that idea and decided to try this Alice Waters recipe, originally from her recipe book The Art of Simple Food, but which I found on this website right here.  (And if you like this blog but don’t yet know who Alice Waters is, you MUST check her out, as she is none other than the inventor and overlord of refined foods made of products grown locally and sustainably).

Now, lentils may not get the love they deserve, but they seriously deserve kudos: 1) they are easy to cook 2) they are packed with proteins, carbs and all the nutrients you need (and regulate your blood sugar, and give you energy, and and and, read more here) 3) they are actually a locally grown product!

Bio lentils from the Coop. Fascinating.

Bio lentils from the Coop. Fascinating.

The recipe is exceedingly simple, which is fantastic for a Monday when you get home and just want to stop at a restaurant for pizza. I put a 1/2 cup of lentils in a pot of water to boil and then simmer until they were cooked through. During that time I chopped up some shallots and parsley and feta, and when the lentils were done, tossed it all together with just a little red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. See? SO SIMPLE! And really, just the red wine vinegar and the lentils go together like peas and carrots (although, having said that, I hate carrots…)  Anyway, you’d be surprised at the flavor I got from just these simple ingredients. Alice Waters, your mission has been accomplished!

Funky shallot - though for this recipe, I'd stick to scallions next time.

Funky shallot – though for this recipe, I’d stick to scallions next time.

The ingredients assembled...

The ingredients assembled…

And together formed a lean, green, lentil salad machine!

And together formed a lean, green, lentil salad machine!

BLT Salad

Day 9 of the 42chf grocery batch. I admit, when I left work I heaved at the notion of having to pick through the remnants in my fridge to compile some kind of dinner. I cracked the fridge open and discovered a small block of pancetta left from a trip to Milano a few weeks back. Dry, but so damn salty there’s no way it could be off! Plus I was craving meat, so that was definitely going into dinner. Other than that, a slightly sad looking lettuce head. Ok, let’s put it out of its misery. Hiding beneath the lettuce were also some perky little tomatoes… and what’s this? Half an avocado with the pit still in it! Score! We have ourselves the makings of a BLT with avocado (a BLAT? ahem). And without the bread. And I was too lazy to make rice to go with it. Still, put together, and combined with a leftover piece of brioche bread held over from Sunday brunch, I was full and happy.

BLT. How creative..... but it's got bacon it. Win!

BLT. How creative….. but it’s got bacon it. Win!

These 9 days have had a huge impact, mostly on just how EXPENSIVE everything in this town can be – and especially dinners out. I’ve also noticed with surprise that I have not thrown out any food since I went shopping last week, which is a reward I had underestimated.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, day 10, when I’ll be having DINNER OUT! I’m about ready for some fries…

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Eating Cheap, Eating Well: Easy as 1-2-Quiche

From experimental plays to busking for beers at the fete de la musique, to hearing chill funky tunes spun at baby plage’s tropical outpost, this weekend has seriously brought out the best in Geneva.

In fact, perhaps the most terrible thing about beautiful weekends like this is that I just cannot bring myself to stay home and chill – even if chilling means cooking. This week however, I was on my mission to stick to the ingredients I had bought on Day 1 and not eat a single bite out beyond that. To tide me over the weekend, while not spending much time in the kitchen, I could think of no better option than quiche: it may take a couple of hours to make, but once it’s done, it keeps, and should hold one average eater through the weekend.

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The final product – cause I just couldn’t wait til the end of the post to show it off

So, for those who are keeping track of my challenge to eat cheap this week, I covered Monday and Tuesday in a previous post. On Wednesday, though I had planned to make a lentil salad with veggies, I got lazy and took advantage of some leftover chili that was left in my freezer by a darling cooking fairy who was leaving for the week. Thursday I snacked copiously at a fundraiser for GenevaWise, an inspiring foundation that provides bursaries to young professionals or university graduates from developing countries to do internships at Geneva’s international organizations (check it out!!).  FRIDAY, I had a family dinner at one of my top favorite restaurants in the Geneva area, which I am still debating whether or not to reveal to this audience (however small it may be!)

And that brings me to Saturday morning, when I woke up to another gorgeous day and hit the kitchen immediately, to get the quiche made, and head out to the sun.

I relied on Martha Stewart, the queen of all things domestic for a recipe. Trying to match a recipe to the ingredients I had left in the fridge, I settled for this Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche. AND, since I naturally didn’t have any store bought pie crust, I also went ahead and made that from scratch using this recipe right here.

In the kitchen with Martha!

The quiche mix itself was easy peezy. I followed the recipe exactly, except I only had a little broccoli left, so I tossed in some green beans I had left in the fridge, steaming them together with the broccoli to save time.

Onions about to get golden, greens gettin a steam bath

Onions about to get golden, greens gettin a steam bath

All together now: eggs, cream, veggies, onions, and cheddar cheese, getting all cozied up

All together now: eggs, cream, veggies, onions, and cheddar cheese, getting all cozied up

The pastry dough was a bit trickier. It all started when I noticed I only had one cup of white flour left, when in fact I needed 1 1/4. I supplemented it with whole wheat flour, which actually turned out to be really delicious, and way more flavorful than a regular white flour dough. Talk about a blessing in disguise.

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Raw

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The flour with a dash of salt, dash of sugar, and the diced butter already cut into the flour mix. Ice water up next!

The other issue I had with the dough is that it didn’t seem to want to become a mass. The recipe called for two tablespoons of ice water, and I just assume that it in fact needed quite a bit more to turn it into a user-friendly, rollable dough. After a couple of trials though, I finally got it rolled out thinly and evenly enough to get it into the pie dish, and off to the fires it went.

The dough in a disk, ready to hit the fridge to set for an hour.

The dough in a disk, ready to hit the fridge to set for an hour.

Once rolled out, the dough gets baked alone, under a bed of dried beans to keep it from bubbling up

Once rolled out, the dough gets baked alone, under a bed of dried beans to keep it from bubbling up

Once the pie crust was getting golden around the edges, I filled it with the quiche filling and popped it back in. 45 minutes later, I peaked into the oven to find this golden beauty waiting for me:

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Rough around the edges, but yummy at the core. Next step: making it pretty!

You have no idea how psyched I was that it turned out ok. In fact, it exceeded my expectations in both quality and quantity: Not only did it tide me over the weekend, there was enough to share with friends after a sailing session on the lake on Saturday, and to contribute to a most welcomed “imprévu” brunch on Sunday.

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Eating cheap, Eating well Days 1 & 2: magret de canard, rigatoni with pine nuts and broccoli

Got all my ingredients yesterday according to a meal plan that should keep me going through the week. I mean where’s the fun in being broke if you can’t be strategic and competitive about it?

To kick start my week of restraint, I thought I would go big. Ease into it and all that. So what better splurge than duck? I kept it “healthy” by siding it with green beans and just a handful of rice.

Day 1. Magret de canard – mark the skin with a knife, salt and pepper the skin side. Heat up just a little bit of oil in a pan to medium (duck releases a lot of fat, so no need to go crazy with the grease). Let sizzle skin side down for about 6 minutes. Flip over and let sizzle for another 6 or so minutes (depends how cooked you like your meat). Pull it off the heat and wrap in foil to let it set (makes the meat more tender). If you’re feeling “saucy”, lower the heat on the now meatless pan and add in something sweet like orange juice, red wine, or a vinegar of your choice and “scrape the bottom of the pan like hell” as my brother says. You will get yourself a lovely sauce that ducks are just mad about. Serve with steamed green beans (lightly salted, squeeze of lemon juice) and white rice that will absorb the sauce like yuuuuuum.

Sorry y’all, no pic. This kind of dish goes down fast.

 

Day 2: Rigatoni with broccoli, pine nuts in an olive oil sauce
When I was in college, on a road trip with some friends, we stopped in Philly to have dinner with my friend’s parents. You see, he was Italian, and his parents ran a modest restaurant. They served us a dish I will never forget for its deceptive simplicity: rigatoni, broccoli, fresh croutons, parmesan, and olive oil. And possibly pine nuts. (College is a bit hazy by now).

TO THIS DAY I have been trying to figure out how they fit so much flavor into such dull ingredients. I will spare you the excitement, I still have not figured it out. I tried this recipe from Food & Wine magazine online, and although it’s easy to make, and it is a step in the right direction, it still doesn’t have the aroma I remember from that homey Italian restaurant in Philly. Still, good enough to want to eat, and I’ve got enough left for lunch tomorrow.

 

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