I'm in the middle of a few juicy posts, like the one about how much I love Joel and that other one about my vagina, but in the meantime, I think it's worth noting that I am a) BROKE ASS POOR b) a decently creative cook and c) on food stamps*. This deadly combination is giving rise to what, from this point further, I plan to refer to as The Poverty Gourmet.
Take tonight, for example. The only animal protein left in my house is a bag of bargain-bin sliced turkey and a whole frozen chicken I bought on sale from the just-about-to-expire bin and which I forgot to defrost this afternoon. I'm out of bread. I have no parmesan cheese and I'm down to the very last dregs of my olive oil reserve.
WHAT TO DO!?!
Make Foccacia, that's what.
I always have a jar of yeast.
And hot water.
Guess what that spells? DINNER!
Recipe for Ligurian Foccacia (Aka schiacciata, a flat pizza-type bread)
2 and 1/4 teaspoons of yeast (or one package of yeast) (but if you're on food stamps like me, you're obviously buying the bulk jars of it, because DUH, the packets cost five times as much.)
1/2 Cup of hot water
4 Cups bread flour (I used white flour because that's the cheapest kind.)
2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil
Fresh or dried herbs (I prefer Rosemary, but all I had on hand was Thyme, so that's what I used...)
Dissolve the yeast in the hot water and let stand until foamy, about ten minutes.
Heap the flour on your (clean) countertop and make a well in the center. Pour the dissolved yeast into the well and add enough warm water to make a soft dough. This will be about 3/4 to a cup of water.
Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about ten minutes.
Form it into a ball and place in a floured bowl covered with a clean dish towel.
Let rise until doubled in volume, about 30-60 minutes.
Knead the dough again briefly.
Roll out on a lightly floured baking sheet into a circle about 3/8 of an inch thick.
Prick holes in the dough with a knife.
Let rise again for 30 minutes.
Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with dried (or fresh!) herbs and coarse salt.
I went one step further and roasted a can of plum tomatoes (drain, slice thin, coat in olive oil and roast in a 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through) and made a quick foccacia pizza with that and the remnants of a Costco block of fresh mozarella. I also made a salad with the leftover lettuce we took home from our friends' wedding on Sunday along with the remnants of the boxed wine leftover from their bar.
We're scrappy, but I've definitely had worse dinners that cost a lot more. The MOST. IMPORTANT. PART. is that you serve this meal on your best china. You put out the silver you've never used. You light candles. You turn off your cell phone and play some Pat Methany. You make it special because doing that part is always FREE.
*Go ahead and BRING IT if you want to give me shit about being on food assistance. Just know that it has affected me in a very. profound. way. I've been on and off foodstamps ever since leaving my marriage and some months it's made the difference between being able to feed my children the whole, healthy diet of fresh food they deserve vs. ramen and canned beans. The fact that there was a social safety net there for me that made sure my children could still eat healthily after I got out of a terrrible marriage changed the way I think about public assistance and charity.
Even when we made well into the six figures every year, we NEVER gave to charity because we thought our taxes were more than enough. That will never be the case for me ever again. Receiving public assistance has done nothing but build a strong desire in me to pay it back tenfold, whether it be through taxes, charity or my own time. I plan to make good on every dollar I've received because I want those dollars to be available to other women who need help leaving abusive relationships.
And I didn't go on foodstamps just so I could pursue my "dream career." I went on them because I didn't have a choice. Even at full employment, my income still qualified me for help with food. I've never received a dollar of child support. I'm really looking forward to finally having a career that will take me 100% off of public assistance and give me an opportunity to pay it all back. Just watch. I'm going to make that happen, even if it means personally delivering meals to women and children in need. Nothing is more important than FOOD for hungry families. Nothing.