Friday, September 4, 2009

Maple Morning Polenta, Chili Corn Pone Pie, and a Review of Mary Ostyn’s Family Feasts for $75 a Week.

(Sorry for the late post, folks. Um ... I kinda bought my wedding dress today. Squee!)

Mary Ostyn has ten children, and has managed to shelter, educate, and feed them all on her husband’s $56,000 salary. She blogs regularly about her experiences at Owlhaven, and on September 1st, she released her second book, Family Feasts for $75 a Week. Last week, I got my hands on a (full disclosure:) free copy. I read it and tried two recipes, wondering all the while if a cookbook intended for large families could also help a pair of veggie-lovin’ Brooklynites.

And ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. Family Feasts keeps food healthy, inexpensive, and real without resorting to semi-homemade-esque measures. I’m more than happy to recommend it here, and to sound off on the top ten things I liked about the book:

1) This quote from page 8: “At its heart, frugality isn’t about deprivation. It’s about taking control of your resources. It’s about making the most of what you have.” Bingo.

2) Mary speaks often from personal experience. As she has ten kids and I have difficulty keeping my ficus alive, this is helpful.

3) No coupons necessary. (Thank Gilbert Gottfried.) These are real-life foods with real-life prices, purchased strategically.

4) There’s a sweet tip about checking dollar stores when you’re food shopping on vacation. I just got back from North Carolina, where our rental was ACROSS THE STREET from said store, yet I never even thought to do this. Duh.

5) Of the book’s 300 pages, about 75 are full of tips, and 200 include a diverse cross-section of recipes with tips interspersed. It never seems to run out of information.

6) There are no processed foods, lots of whole ingredients, and absolutely zero Cream of Whatever soups. Which is great, because I freaking hate those things. They feel like cheating, look like freshly poured concrete, and taste like death. (Um … but that’s just my opinion.)

7. There are quite a few Korean and Ethiopian dishes, because Mary adopted children from both countries. As a fan of kimchi and injera bread (which ... seriously, you gotta try it), I appreciate this.

8. This tip: “The rule in the canned food aisle, in general, is, if the item is an ingredient for cooking, we buy it, but if it’s something ready-made in a can we probably do not buy it.” YES. WHAT SHE SAID.

9. For each meal, she preps only 1 to 1-1/2 small servings of meat per person, but makes extra side dishes and veggies. This keeps meals healthy and costs down - a great tactic in general.

10. Chili Corn Pone Pie and Maple Morning Polenta.

Okay, that last one’s actually two things, but they’re the recipes I tried. Both were aces. The Polenta was unorthodox yet tasty, while the Pie was a big hunk of hearty Man Food that can easily be scaled down for caloric needs. (Which I did down below.)

Both recipes are listed here, with minor changes made to fit the parameters of this blog (1% milk, ground turkey, etc.). There are little notes before every alteration, so you know what’s been switched around. Also, please note that I use regular Brooklyn prices, so your totals may vary.

In conclusion, if you get the chance, check out Family Feasts. It’s as handy for two clueless New Yorkers as any family of 47.

See you Tuesday, folks. Happy long weekend.

Mary Ostyn’s Maple Morning Polenta
Makes 6 servings

3 cups cold water
1-1/2 cups 1% milk
2 cups cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup pancake syrup, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries

NOTE from Kris: This is an easily scalable recipe. If you’re making it for one or two, however, the cooking time will be A LOT faster. Also, I used 1% milk (which worked well), but Mary’s original recipe calls for regular milk. Finally, I like Aunt Jemima Butter Lite syrup. It’s 100% chemicals, but I can’t help it.

1) Combine water, milk, cornmeal, and salt in a medium-size saucepan, stirring briskly to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches a boil, about 10 minutes.

2) Reduce heat to low. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens.

3) Remove from heat. Stir in pancake syrup and butter; ladle into bowls. Top with additional syrup and sprinkle with raisins just before serving.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
296 calories, 5.4 g fat, 4.7 g fiber, $0.50

3 cups cold water: negligible calories, fat, fiber, FREE
1-1/2 cups 1% milk: 158 calories, 3.7 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.32
2 cups cornmeal: 1010 calories, 4.7 g fat, 20.4 g fiber, $0.90
½ teaspoon salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, $0.01
½ cup pancake syrup, plus more for serving (I use Aunt Jemima Butter Lite): 200 calories, 0 g fat, 2 g fiber, $0.67
2 tablespoons butter: 204 calories, 23 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.12
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries: 206 calories, 0.8 g fat, 5.6 g fiber, $0.96
TOTAL: 1778 calories, 32.2 g fat, 28 g fiber, $2.98
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 296 calories, 5.4 g fat, 4.7 g fiber, $0.50


Mary Ostyn’s Chili Corn Pone Pie
Makes 6 servings

1 pound ground turkey breast (beef or regular ground turkey is fine, too - Kris)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can kidney or small pink beans, drained
½ cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce (about 12 ounces of your favorite brand)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup cornmeal
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
¾ cup 1% milk
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup 2% shredded cheddar

NOTE from Kris: I used turkey breast, but ground beef is what Mary cooked with originally. Also, if the dough topping is feeling a little thin, feel free to add a bit more flour. Finally, I used 1% milk and lighter cheddar (for that whole “health” thing), but Mary’s original recipe calls for regular versions of both.

1) Preheat oven to 350F.

2) Preheat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink, breaking it into small pieces with the side of a spoon. Remove turkey from skillet, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and onion to skillet. (Note: if using beef, do not add extra oil - Kris) Cook onion until it begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining filling ingredients; stir well to combine. Simmer until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes.

3) In a medium-sized bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add beaten egg, milk, and oil to flour mixture; mix well to form a soft dough.

4) Spread meat mixture over the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Drop tablespoons of the corn bread mixture all over the top of the pie, distributing it as evenly as possible. Sprinkle cheese across the top. Bake 45 minutes, or until cheese is flecked with brown and filling starts to bubble out the sides.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
424 calories, 10.6 g fat, 6.8 g fiber, $1.58

1 pound ground turkey breast: 502 calories, 3.2 g fat, 0 g fiber, $5.59
1 teaspoon vegetable oil: 44 calories, 5 g fat, 0 g fiber; $0.03
1 small onion, chopped: 29 calories, 0.1 g fat, 1 g fiber, $0.25
1 (14.5-ounce) can kidney or small pink beans, drained: 367 calories, 2.7 g fat, 19.3 g fiber, $0.80
½ cup frozen or fresh corn kernels: 66 calories, 0.9 g fat, 2.1 g fiber, $0.20
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce (I used Ragu Red Pepper & Onion): 292 calories, 8 g fat, 5.3 g fiber, $0.80
1 tablespoon chili powder: 24 calories, 1.3 g fat, 2.6 g fiber: $0.04
1 teaspoon ground cumin: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.02
1 teaspoon salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.02
¾ cup cornmeal: 379 calories, 1.8 g fat, 7.7 g fiber, $0.33
¾ cup all-purpose flour (plus more for dough, if necessary): 341 calories, 0.9 g fat, 2.5 g fiber, $0.07
½ teaspoon salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder: 4 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.04
½ teaspoon baking soda: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
1 large egg, beaten: 74 calories, 5 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.33
¾ cup 1% milk: 74 calories, 1.8 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.16
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil: 185 calories, 21 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.14
½ cup 2% shredded cheddar: 162 calories, 12.1 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.62
TOTAL; 2543 calories, 63.8 g fat, 40.5 g fiber, $9.46
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 424 calories, 10.6 g fat, 6.8 g fiber, $1.58

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