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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Recipe and International Dinner

A Mexican Flair

Have you ever received a last minute invitation? Have you ever been so broke you felt you could not produce a fitting dish? Have the food choices been prescribed ahead of time, so you had to work within parameters set up by someone else? All these conditions are where I found myself today.

Charlie had been talking for weeks about making something for an international dinner that his friend, Tammy, was having. I have heard about how Charlie's Italian mom is giving him the recipe and that the ingredients are out of season.

Last night, I remarked that I wish I had been invited. He said, "You want to come?" Yes!  "Then, consider yourself invited. I will send you and invitation to make it official." Then, he turned to Tammy and said "Linda wants to come." I was a little mortified. But, it was okay. That is the last minute part.

On Wednesday, I have to try to avoid paying $134 for a ticket--for not having a tag light. I did not know I had no tag light! I replaced it the next day. But, my "court date" is tomorrow. You would think I killed someone or embezzled millions. Between fear of that and other money issues (not having much), I did not feel like I could spend much.

The third part--it had to be an international food. Hmmmm. I looked in the cabinet and found free things. I mean I paid NOTHING for the items. They were free.

1 can Ranch Style black beans with liquid
1 can Low Sodium black beans:edit to add this ingredient
1 package Knorr Fiesta Sides Taco Rice
1 8-oz can shoepeg corn, drained
1/2 Bell Pepper
1/2 red pepper
1 bunch green onions, use half green stems
1/2 cup Kraft Five Blend Italian Cheese

The Knorr mix was supposed to have 1.5 cups water added. I added the can of beans and one can of water. I diced all the red pepper I had and about half the green pepper. All this was microwaved for 12 minutes. It was a bit watery and the rice was not quite done. It sat for ten minutes, and as I suspected, the water was absorbed and the rice was done. I refrigerated this.

When I heated it before the dinner, I added a three inch tall can of drained shoepeg corn and the green onions and sprinkled the top with cheese. I forgot to brown the free hamburger and add! No problem. The casserole was a success.

peppers from the chicken produce--free

contains: salt, onion, olive oil, garlic powder,and spice

Rice and Pasta Blend
with Cheese in a Taco Flavored Sauce

The only can of corn I had--free
So, it is Italian blend cheese! Get over it!
The cheese was $1 on sale and with coupon.

Free today at the grocery store

When I went to the grocery store where there are only three electric carts, one was in use; one refused to move; the other seemed sluggish. As I moved around the store in the sluggish one, contemplating buying different things and not really being able to afford it, I finally had decided on the Mexican dish I made, so I put green onions in my cart. I got one banana because the fruit flies think I shop for them when I bring bananas home.

Then, far from the store entrance the cart just quit. I was dismayed, horrified and sat for five minutes with my elbows on the handlebars and my head in my hands. I fought tears. I fought hard. I am not a pretty crier. Just as I turned and was struggling to rise, the manager came around the corner. I called him over and told him my predicament.  I told him I was fighting tears and feeling very depressed over two out of three carts not working so early in the morning. He called someone and went to look for the  other cart--not in the parking lot.

Sure enough someone was using it. The person he called showed up with a wheel chair! I refused because I don't want to go there, yet, not for many years. Plus, wandering and pondering would seem like a waste of the employee's time. I would not be able to think.  She was so sweet and said she did not mind.

The manager told her to carry my two selections to the cash register for me. I told him I just wanted to go home because I was so discouraged and still felt like I was going to cry, that I was not buying anything and apologized. He told her to bag them up and he would give them to me. I objected. He insisted.

When I got into the car, having had to walk all the way there in tremendous pain, I tried to focus on something besides crying once I started driving. I did have other things I needed, but I will have to try again another day.

The casserole was a success when I tasted it, and I do not like Mexican food. I felt like Julia Child with Mexican. I took a one-hour nap or rest, not sure.

Free dishes made from what I have on hand makes me happy!  I don't mean this food was free because I had it, I mean it was FREE. I was not trying to get free onions! I said the dish was free. Maybe I used 25 cents worth of cheese.

Your turn
Have you had to really work to afford the dish you needed to make? Baking was beyond my abilities today.  Have you had to scour your food stores to find just the right thing? Remember, having something to cook was not the dilemma--cooking/taking something international AND EASY was the dilemma. 


  1. Good job on the casserole! I'm curious, what is shoepeg corn?
    My difficulty when having to bring something to a potluck or dinner with friends, is what my family will eat (on a budget) is different from what I might bring to a dinner somewhere else (and still on a budget). I am pretty good at baking bread and rolls, so most often that is what I try to bring. Bread/rolls are always affordable, and I do have a few recipes that are fairly quick (like focaccia) and don't need a lot of kneading. I have the most trouble coming up with a suitable main dish for these sort of events. I'm glad yours was a success!

  2. My biggest trouble is trying to satisfy everybodies food allergies these days. literally everybody I know is either vegetarian or food allergic or both. I can do this....been all of the above myself, but it takes planning. I keep coconut milk in the pantry because as long as somebody can have eggs, I can make flan!

  3. Lili,
    I don't think taking a main dish is necessary. Good homemade bread or rolls is worth a hunk of meat to me anyday at a dinner. Focaccia IS a main dish for me! Thanks!

    At a dinner, it should not be mandatory that everyone cater to allergies/vegans/vegetarians! Who do people think they are? I have allergies, and I just quietly avoid that dish. If you put coconut milk in anything, I would avoid it because of allergies. Nice vegetarians and vegans bring a dish they know they can eat.

    I do appreciate people's choices in food for whatever reasons, but I don't appreciate being called to the serving table and having to recite my recipe when I have already said it is vegan/vegetarian. It has happened. Some vegetarians and vegans are all about their choices and voicing their opinions loudly. If I see one more allergic person pout at a gathering, I may just pummel the person.

    Breathe, Linda (me), breathe.

  4. Lili,
    Shoepeg corn is a variety of corn, cultivar with densely packed, tiny kernels. It is used in salads and is found mostly in the South.

    1. Thanks for clearing that up.

      And I agree about not trying to cater to everyone's dietary requirements.
      Really it does seem like *everyone* is allergic or intolerant to something. Myself, I'm lactose intolerant. At a dinner in someone else's home I just avoid the items I know I can't have, and stick with things that are obvious I can.

      If I had a life-threatening allergy, I'd bring something I could eat and quietly not make a big deal over it. (If I'm the one cooking for a meal, when I invite someone(s), I do casually ask if they have any food allergies. Don't want to send anyone to the hospital!).

      It makes the hostess feel badly, if you can't eat something. I just fill my plate with the "safe" stuff. And I think it's very bad manners to make a huge fuss.

    2. Throw in a few religious objections to food and being a good host is impossible! I have no religious objections to any food.

      You make very good points. Thanks for the comments.

  5. Once, when I had absolutely nothing to eat (I thought), I got creative and made a pasta dish from leftover chicken, oranges, garlic, and some dried basil and it came out really well. The only time I had specific parameters for a potluck was a local foods potluck, and then they only expected one ingredient to be local. I think I made pasta salad with pesto dressing, so the basil from the pesto, the tomatoes, and the cukes were local.

  6. Pamela,
    Looking in the refrigerator can be enlightening! Local ingredient would have been easier for me. I was getting ill, so everything was harder on Tuesday.


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