They say three makes a trend. At least, that’s what my editors at monthly magazines used to say. And this morning I got three in five minutes. From TodayShow.com a story entitled, Is The Recession Making You Fat? And two from The New York Times, one about how the menus on charity fundraisers have been tweaked from filet mignon to chicken pot pie and another that says: Food Magazines Begin To Consider Cooks’ Budgets. “As the high-end magazines try to survive a shaky 2009,” it reads, “it is out with the truffles, in with the button mushrooms.” (Oooh, wait, there’s more. A piece by Ask Kitty, Today’s depression-surviving 86-year-old columnist, about how gardening can help you eat well in troubled times.)
There is definitely something cooking (pun intended). Here’s what we know about people, money and food: Those who feel squeezed for funds don’t eat healthily. They tend to rely on convenience foods which are junked up with salt, sugar, flavor additives and other things your bodies don’t need. People who feel flusher tend to eat better, buying fresh vegetables, testing out the organic offerings, even getting a $5 salad at Mickey D’s rather than something on the dollar menu.
There is a middle ground. One good thing about this recession is that it is driving people back to the kitchen. It needs to drive people back to the ways our mothers shopped as well. No more daily trips to pick up two items that turn into ten at the convenience store because you are hungry. It’s time to shop, once again, with a list that keeps in mind what you’ll have for dinner this week. Couponing is back — and with a vengeance. Start with your Sunday circulars. The vast majority of coupons for food come from there. And keep them in your car so you won’t forget them when you go to the store. And for me: frozen vegetables have saved the day. They are cheap. They don’t spoil. I am famous for my string beans. Even the children in the neighborhood ask for them when they come for dinner. No one would guess that they start out frozen. They do:
Jean’s Famous String Beans With Garlic, Salt, Pepper and Parmesan
Take one bag frozen string beans.
Steam until cooked by putting a few tsp of water into frying pan and putting on the lid. (Takes about 5 minutes)
Put the beans on the side. Wipe the water out of the pan.
On high, add 2 Tsp Olive Oil (3 if you’re making a really big batch).
Sliver two cloves of garlic and add those to the pan
When they are golden, add the string beans and stand back for splatter
Stir as they cook, about 5 mins
Salt and pepper to taste
About 1 minute before serving add 1/4 cup grated parmesan. Stir that around, too.