September Hobo Night: Somebody’s Arse is a Little Fruity. And Cheap. September 3, 2009Posted by Toy Lady in random stuff.
And here it is already – the first week of September. September! When did that happen, anyway?
So the first week of the month brings us Thursday Night Smackdown’s Hobo Challenge. However, this month, we’re not actually “competing” – we’re just playing along. Which is only fair, anyway, since (a) we consistently make super-cheap meals ANYWAY – we’ve got lots of practice!, and (b) we named this month’s challenge:
September’s hobo meal needs to have FRUIT as an integral part of the main dish – no sticking a lemon wedge on the plate and calling it done.
As for tomatoes – it’s up to you whether you want to fall on the side of the nerdy botanists or THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES.
However, just because we’re not competing for the “cheap” title doesn’t mean we can’t play along. I don’t think. This month, though, rather than try to make the cheapest meal we can, we’re trying to get as close to $5.00 for the two of us as possible – without going over. Possibly even more challenging!
So we need “fruit” to be a star player here. Enter fruit: some market-fresh peaches AND some garden-fresh grape tomatoes. Note how neatly I side-step the “Science vs. The Supreme Court” question – I’ll just use them both! Ha. (Pay no attention to the grapefruit in the foreground. I’d thought to add that to the evening’s dinner but I totally forgot changed my mind. Carry on.)
Our fruit has been selected. Peaches. And tomatoes. Assuming they’re fruit.
Now for the protein.
Chicken is always a cheap option, right?
And you know, the last time Peeps did a smoking session, he did a boatload of chicken breasts which we stuck in the freezer. So I pulled out the two smallest breasts I could find – probably a total of about 3/4 of a pound.
So, you know what’s a sign of a good marriage is? Compromise. That’s what.
I mean, we’re doing a cheap-arse dinner using fruit. NOT one of Peeps’s favorite things. His preference (and really, who can blame him?) would be for a high-end steak. With potatoes. So. . .we make compromises.
For me, we’re doing salad. We got a nice bunch of buttercrunch lettuce at the market last weekend, so that’s what we’re using.
For him, we’ll use smoked chicken in the salad.
For me, we’ll use grape tomatoes. That’s a freebie, because he just picks them out.
For me, we’re going to use peaches as the official fruit.
For him, we’ll throw in a can of black beans.
Plus some toasted pecans because I just thought they’d be good.
OK, that’s all well and good, but what about the peaches?
Well, THIS is what about the peaches. I sliced two peaches into 4 slices, about 1/2 inch thick, then browned them in a skillet. I had initially intended to put them on the grill, but, um, I keep forgetting to stop and pick up propane, so . . . the stove works just fine for this anyway. Maybe even better.
So. . . why not introduce a second (or third, depending on your whole tomato position) fruit?
Last fall, we tried a couple of experiments – one was when we bought a couple of gallons of fresh apple cider, divided it into quart jars, and froze it. Then, later, we took one of our quarts of cider, put it in a saucepan, and reduced it. A lot. I’m talking we reduced a quart of cider to about a cup. What we had was apple syrup. And it was darned good, too. We drizzled it over pork, added it to pan-seared chicken, and overall just enjoyed the heck out of it. Then we stuck it in the back of the fridge and forgot about it.
(If you ever try this, and I’d highly recommend it, here’s a tip: take about a tablespoon of cider syrup, and pour into a martini glass with some ice-cold Stoli: vodka apple-tinis – oh, YUM!)
So, where was I going with the apple cider? Well, Peeps put together a vinaigarette using pantry staples (including the several-months-old cider syrup):
- about 1/4 cup cider syrup (could substitute half maple syrup, half apple juice or cider)
- a spoonful of dijon mustard (We used homemade. Of course.)
- a couple of cloves of garlic, minced
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- some canola oil – about 2/3 cup
We started with a bed of lettuce, laid the sliced, browned peaches on top, then dumped the chicken- black bean -tomato -pecan mixture on top of that, and dressed the whole works with the apple vinaigrette. And that’s dinner.
Since we’re still playing along, I’m going to ahead and tally the meal up. The salad dressing was made completely from staples, so for the rest of the salad:
smoked chicken – .75 lb – $1.88/lb. – $1.41
pecans – .25 lb. – $5.21/lb – $1.30
lettuce – 1/2 bunch – $1.50/bunch – $0.75
grape tomatoes – couple of handfuls from the garden – $-0-
peaches – 2 from a $2.00 bucket of 7 – $0.28 each - $.56
black beans – 1can- $.89
Grand total for two servings - $4.91
Per serving – $2.46