Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Its a Hectic Week

This week has started off with a bang. It seems like every minute is filled with one commitment or another. Weeks like this make it hard to keep a frugal focus. My personal goals for the day are humble. If I can get my son's hand traced and make the pattern for the mittens, I'll be thrilled. I'm hoping to squeeze in a laundry as well but that may be asking for the moon.

Dinner tonight will be Cuban Black Beans with rice. Its simple and everyone loves it. I'll serve it with the remaining 1/2 bag or tortilla chips and salsa. I'll probably make some vegetable soup to go with it because baby its cold in NY!

BTW, for the six of us one bag of torilla chips should last through 2 meals. How is this possible? Easy, only mom serves the chips and then she puts the bag back in the cabinet. The result, we get to enjoy the chips two days instead of one and no one gets excess calories that they don't really need.

Last night I combined a variety of leftovers, including red lentils, potato scramble, potato mushroom soup and some greens, to make a hearty, creamy, delcious soup. I served it with toasted Oatmeal bread and two different spreads hummus and this Green Olive Bruschetta recipe from an old issue of VegNews. I'll share that recipe tomorrow. The end result of last nights dinner is the fridge is now cleared of leftovers.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Plan to Foil the Missing Mitten Monster

We must have lost 100 mittens and its barely March. My six year old just can't keep track of them. The last time I was at the thrift store I bought a mens xlarge sweater with a very tight weave for 99 cents. My plan is to cut the sweater into as many matching mittens as I can. If it goes smoothly, I may get another sweater and do the same for my five year old.

I think there's a pattern or instructions to do this in The Complete Tightwad Gazette and that's probably where I got the idea from. My plan is to trace the hand of the child in question and make the mitten a bit bigger. If you try this don't forget to leave room for the seams.

I ran short on time yesterday and didn't make my normal yeast bread recipe for the week. Instead I gave the Oatmeal bread recipe a try from How It All Vegan. It uses baking soda and baking powder instead. I'm not crazy about the way it turned out. Part of the problem is that I got distracted and overmixed the batter. This creates that big lopsided crack on the top of the loaf. Also the inside was gooey, which I should have noticed before taking it out of the oven but didn't. It tasted pretty good once you toast it. I'd like to give it another try sometime when my mind is actually in the kitchen with me.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Kindergarten Potluck

My youngest son's kindergarten class had an alphabet potluck on Thursday. My son, Kyle, had to bring a dish that starts with the letter K because his name started with a K. To top it all off, I had to have it all put together the night before so Jim could just heat it up. There was no way I'd be back from training in time to put this together.

We decided to use kidney beans to cover the "K" needs of the assignment. The potluck was Thursday. I cooked them in the crock pot overnight on Tuesday. Wednesday evening, I chopped one can of olives and a few bunches of fresh broccoli (into very small trees or squares). I added a huge amount of very mild salsa. I drained the beans and mixed it all together in a microwave safe dish with cover (remember this had to be transported.) I made the exact same mixture in the crockpot for the people who weren't going to the potluck.

About a half hour before the potluck, Jim microwaved the mixture. BTW, the reason we opted for microwaving rather than just using the crock pot was because the broccoli get brownish when cooked long term with tomato. We were already serving kidney beans to the McDonald's set, we couldn't sacrafice eye appeal as well.

We labeled our creation, Kyle's Kidney Bean Surprise. It was a big hit with our family and it went over fairly well at the potluck. The most important opinion to me was Kyle's. He thought it was "YUMMY!"

Friday, February 24, 2006

Challenging Our Habits

Sorry for the inconsitent posts this week. I've been at trainings all day for the last two days. I'm beginning to feel as if someone used me as a punching bag. The trainings were about an hour and a half from my house. I chose to drive both days rather than stay at the hotel because there was no way I'd spend as much in gas as I would in hotel expenses.

I'm sure no one is shocked to hear that I brought my lunch and snacks both days. The trainings always provide a morning snack and coffee or tea. In the afternoon coffee and tea is still available. Water and candy are available throughout the day.(I can't figure out why they give candy but they do, every year!)

Despite this, many people went out to buy coffee. I just can't figure it out. It wasn't as if they were serving Sanka, it was really good coffee. People also bought water bottles through the day. We had giant pitchers of ice water in each conference room on every table but very few people thought to refill rather than buy.

When I mentioned this to someone in the training with me, her face lit up. "I never thought of it," she said and promptly refilled her water bottle. I think sometimes we just need to stop doing things habitually and explore the options that exist around us.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Rough Weekend Makes for a Smooth Week

One of the few casualities of the weekend power failure was the food we brought up to the cabin in coolers. We kept it all cool in the garage but I wasn't comfortable refreezing anything or keeping anything long term. It all needed to be used or thrown out and there was little chance of me throwing it out!

First on my list of things to use up was a four pound brick of extra firm tofu. I made tofu bacon and served it along with pumpkin pancakes made from the pumpkin puree that had begun to defrost. There made enough of this for two breakfasts for everyone.

There was a big container of frozen bananas that I had planned to use in smoothies. These I blended up and made 6 loaves of banana bread which has made mornings go very smoothly this week.

The veggies that were along for the ride were used in various soups and sauces.

BTW, I don't recommend using foods that have been without refrigeration and allowed to come to 40 degrees or more. Four hours at an unsafe temperature and you're on your way to some heavy duty food poisoning. When in doubt, always throw it out. I kept close track of the temperature in the garage (never above 30 degrees) and of the condition of the food. I knew most of the thawing occured on the ride to and from the cabin. Frugality is important but food safety definitely needs to come first.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Frugal Power Failure

Sorry for the delay in posting but I was one of the many affected by the power failures in northern NY. Although we had power back yesterday, we spent much of the day fixing problems that resulted from 3 days with no heat or power. So much for a relaxing 3 day weekend in the mountains!

I learned a few interesting frugal things from our experiences. I guess I'd title the first lesson, technology is great, when it works. Our very high tech thermostat fried, we think as a result of the power surge when the power came back on. This thermostat is linked to our phone line and calls us to let us know about power failures and heating system failtures in the cabin.

When the power came back on it began calling us every 15 minutes or so with conflicting messages. We'd get a call with high temperature warning saying it was 90 degrees followed by a call saying there was a low temperature warning and that the temp was 40 degrees.

Here's the kick, Jim solved the problem by hooking up the old dial thermostat and bypassing the new one. For the cost of two wirenuts (15 cents each at the local hardware store) we had heat again.

The second frugal lesson we learned was pay attention to the wisdom of your elderly neighbors. When it became clear that power was not coming back any time soon and we were in danger of frozen pipes we went to our 85 year old neighbor to ask for advice. Thanks to his wisdom and a $5.74 bottle of RV antifreeze, we made it through without any plumbing problems.

The third frugal lesson was you can cook in a fireplace in a pinch but it really helps to have quick cooking foods on hand. In the only pot I have with no plastic handles, I heated some water by placing the pot in the fireplace just in front of the fire. Then I combined whole wheat pasta, TVP, and two jars of pasta sauce and placed the pot back in the fireplace just in front of the fire. The result was a hot, tasty although texturally challenged meal. The pasta gets soggy, there's no way to avoid it.

My final thought on the whole experience involves our local Stewarts. On Friday evening, it was the only gas station around with power for miles. The lines for gas wrapped around the corner but were very orderly. Inside there were two long but orderly lines that wrapped around the store. The atmosphere was friendly despite the fact that supplies were beginning to run low. Maybe this is why we love our little Adirondack oasis so much.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I Can't Let the Jelly Go Bad

Last week I made strawberry apple jelly. Actually, I made about 3 cups of jelly and technically it would be a fruit spread rather than a jelly but you get the idea. Two days ago we ran out of peanut butter and I'm not buying any until our next food coop order goes in. I hate wasting food so I had to find a use for all that jelly.

I ended up using it in place of the applesauce in a recipe for Applesauce Cake. The only thing I really tinkered with was the spices. I checked out another recipe that used strawberries (but I didn't have the rest of the ingredients for) and discovered the only spice involved was cinnamon. Based on that info, I eliminated the cloves and nutmeg from the recipe. The cake was a big hit. Everyone was fighting to make sure they got some in their lunch today. Isn't it funny?

Tonight, I'm finally going to try out the Corningware-travel-keep-your-food-warm-thing (I can't remember what its called!) that my brother and sister in law got me for Christmas. I'm not sure what I'm cooking yet but the plan is to cook it here and eat it when we get there (the Adirondacks). I'm curious to see how well it retains the heat.

I won't be posting again until Monday evening. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Millet Loaf, Round 2

I'm delighted to report that the millet loaf worked much better as an ingredient than as a main course. I prepared it the way I described yesterday with two notable changes. First, I added chopped cilantro from the freezer. Second, I cooked these on a cookie sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, turning once after about 20 minutes. The result was a burger that was crispy on the outside but not dried out on the inside. We served them with ketchup and mustard, although salsa would have worked nicely too.

I've come to think of the proportions/ingredients from yesterday's post as a sort of universal veggie burger recipe. You add whatever is left unloved in your fridge to it and viola.

The leftover mashed winter squash reappeared as squash biscuits with last night's dinner. They work so well as a quick breakfast too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rehabilitating the Millet Loaf

I chickened out and make Mac Uncheese from Compassion Over Killing, mashed winter squash and Oatmeal Walnut Burgers for dinner last night. We finished up with a sweet, but not too sweet, Hot Water Cake. Everyone took leftovers for lunch today, that's how you know its a true hit!

Today I have to make the millet loaf edible. Here's how I attack the problem. First, I check out the original recipe so I know what spices are already in the mix. The recipe in question used tomato juice, garlic, poultry seasoning, sage and basil. The problem with the loaf is its rather dry and vaguely bitter.

So here's my assessment of the problems. I blame the vaguely bitter taste on the raw garlic that was used in the recipe. I know my family prefers their garlic sauteed, making it a little mellower than raw. The dryness is because of how long it cooked.

On the positive side, the spices involved work well in veggie burgers and veggie sausage patties.

Here's my plan. I'm going to mix the millet with the following:

1 cup finely chopped walnuts which will add some moistness as well as a mellow flavor
2 Tbs flaxseed meal to help bind things as well as add some moistness
1/2 cup each oatmeal and cornmeal for texture and binding power
salsa to bind it all together and flavor (ketchup would be another option)
water as needed to bind it all together

The amounts listed above are just to give you an idea of proportions. The actual amounts depend on how much millet there actually is. You want to windup with something that holds its shape. I'm going to cook these on the griddle and see how they turn out. I'll let you know tomorrow.

BTW, its the fat content in the walnuts and flaxseed meal that lends moistness.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

I tried two recipes last night from one the Dr John McDougal cookbooks that I picked up at the library sale last year. One was for a lima bean soup which ultimately recieved mixed reviews. No one wants to have it again but no one was against using it for lunch today.

The other recipe was for Millet Loaf which was truly awful. It combined millet, tomato juice, garlic and other spices. It sounded tasty enough but it wasn't. My goal for tonight's dinner is to see if I can rehabilitate the leftovers of the Millet Loaf. It will be a delicate operation because they're already suspicious about where it might turn up. I'd better make a fun dessert just to cover myself.

In a rare burst of morning energy, I made everyone pancakes this morning. Actually, it was because there were no quick things to grab and I know my daughters will skip breakfast rather than take the time to eat a bowl of oatmeal or cereal.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Recent Frugal Finds

Our local ecycling group (it had been freecycle but then was changed) has been a great resource for our frugal lives. This weekend someone was giving away some picture frames and a big blue tote. I thought great, I need picture frames for the school pictures that I still haven't hung yet and that 40 pound bag of dog food on the floor in my basement is really unsightly, plus the dog keeps getting his own little snacks from it.

The thing with ecycling or freecycling is you never know exactly what you're going to get until you've gotten it. Well this time I got an absolute treasure chest, a 33 gallon tote filled with picture frames of various sizes, many of them never used! The tote was so big that I'm going to transfer some of our summer clothes out of the smaller totes I already had and into the new one. The dog food will fit in the smaller one tote that I already had now that I have a place to fit the clothes.

A trip to my parents' house on Friday netted a dog crate they no longer needed plus extra screws to replace the ones that have fallen out of the crate I already have. Now I don't have to bring Mel's crate back and forth with us to the Adirondacks and when I take the cats to the vet they won't cause the bottom of the crate to fall off.

I've just gotten the book Making Patterns from Finished Clothes from the library. I'm curious to read it, although my 13 year old is even more curious.

On the food front, I experimented with my cornbread again, this time adding finely chopped apricots. Actually, I ran the apricots through the Vitamix with the wet ingredients until they were finely chopped. It made the cornbread much less crumbly.

Last night before bed I put some lima beans in slow cooker. I'm not sure what recipe I'll use them in yet but they're cooked and ready to go once I decide. Lima beans are really delicious, although I hated them when I was a kid. They were the nasty part of the frozen mixed veggies my mom always bought. Go figure!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Frugal Entertaining When You Have No Time to Prepare

After two weeks of Jim working nights, the house was a mess this morning. I really depend on him to help keep things going smoothly! Jim was taking the boys to karate, I had to go to work and his parents were coming by at 1:00. We had a lot to do in very little time.

Since Jim left first with the boys, the girls and I divided up the chores of getting the house presentable. We needed to vacuum, empty and reload the dishwasher, clean the bathroom, do something with the piles of paper that accumulate over the week and make a snack to have with coffee. We were working against time, I had to leave for work in 45 minutes.

The girls did the vacuuming and dishes, while I put together scones to have with coffee. I used my version of the scone recipe from the Complete Tightwad Gazette. To make it a little fancier I added chopped walnuts, a few chopped apricots and a drizzle of maple syrup over the top. While that was baking, I gathered up all the miscellaneous papers and made 3 giant piles on my bureau, where they couldn't be seen by company. The girls finished wiping down the bathroom and we made it out of the house just in time. Whew!

By the time I got back from work with the girls, my inlaws were enjoying coffee and scones with Jim and the boys. They had no way of knowing how quickly we pulled it all together or how easy those tasty scones were to make.

If you have a few fast, frugal recipes to fall back on in situations like this, you can almost always avoid a last minute trip to the store for cake or cookies. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Applesauce Pie in Oatmeal Crust

I can't believe how easy this was to make or how yummy the finished product was. The original recipe (Honey Apple Pie in Oatmeal Crust) is from Grandma's Wartime Kitchen. My version omits the honey and uses maple syrup in its place. It also uses applesauce rather than sliced apples, because that's what I have on hand. Finally my version uses canola oil in place of shortening because hydrogentated oils are so bad for you.

Applesauce Pie in Oatmeal Crust

In a small bowl combine:
3/4 cup flour
2 Tbs brown sugar (I used vanilla sugar which eliminates the need for vanilla extract later in the recipe.)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (I suspect this could be omitted without anyone noticing.)

Stir in the following until mixture is course crumbs (use a pastry cutter or a fork):
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tbs water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Fold in:
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats

Press mixture into bottom and sides of a greased 9" pie plate. Bake in 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes or until light brown.

While the crust is baking, combine the following in a small saucepan over medium heat:
1 quart of unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbs maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves

In a measuring cup whisk together:
1/4 cup of water
4 tsp flour

Gradually whisk this mixture into the applesauce mixture. Cook until applesauce begins to thicken and the mixture loses the pasty, flour taste. Pour into cooked pie shell and set aside to cool. Serve room temperature or cold from fridge, either way its delicious.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sugar Is Sweet but...

Since Jim is working the night shift, I've already made dinner (Peanut Soup with Black Eyed Peas and Rice) so he could take it to work. I put the rest in the crock pot on low to keep it warm for the rest of us.

I also tried a funky Apple Pie recipe from Grandma's Wartime kitchen. Its cooling on the counter. I'm not certain if the filling will work out the way I'd hoped. I tried using some of the applesauce that I seem to have so much of rather than starting with whole apples. I'll post my review tomorrow.

Last night I made Carob Banana muffins. Everyone here is beginning to really like carob. This is a big help considering both Jim and our youngest son can't tolerate chocolate or cocoa. Now that everyone is getting on board, I'm just not going to buy cocoa powder anymore. There is very little time in my world for making two versions of the same food.

Lately I've noticed that despite our vegan diet, we seem to use a lot of sugar, especially in baking. I've begun looking at the amounts of sugar in recipes as I make them. When I taste the final product, I try to decide how much wiggle room I have with the sweetness.

As a result, I've begun playing around with decreasing the amount of sugar and replacing some of it with healthier sweeteners like blackstrap molasses. This is a delicate operation, around here people like their sweets and blackstrap molasses has quite a taste. I'm taking little baby steps on this one. There will definitely be more on this in upcoming posts.

With dinner completed and the rest of the afternoon ahead of me, I'm hoping to get some mending done. Its a frugal necessity and its really begun to pile up around here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Easy Individual Vegan Calzones

If you want to thrill a child, make his/her dinner into a nifty looking, little package. It works every time. Out of this bit of wisdom the Individual Vegan Calzone recipe was born.

I took pizza dough from the freezer, enough to make four thin crust pies. I divided the dough into about 18 equal size balls. It doesn't have to be 18. I came up with that amount because I knew Jim and the girls would eat at least two and I wanted enough to use for lunches on Monday.

The filling was a variation on the filling from the Tofu Spinach Lasagna recipe from the Compassionate Cook by Peta. Here's my version:

Easy Vegan Calzone Filling
1 pound extra firm tofu
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbs soymilk
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 Tbs dried basil

Drain the tofu. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork to combine. The goal is a crumbly, ricotta-like texture.

I rolled each individual pizza dough ball out, placed some of the filling in the center. I added about two tablespoons of tomato sauce, folded the pizza dough over the filling and placed it on a greased cookie sheet. I baked them at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. The baking time is going to vary based on how big your calzones are and how browned you like them.

They were a big hit both hot for dinner and cold for lunch the next day. The only flaw with using this filling is it tends to be a bit watery and, although that doesn't seem to affect the final product, it makes a mess when you're assembling them.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Leen's Ultimate Frugal Haircut

I had originally planned to share my recipe for the calzones that I made last night but I'm putting that off until tomorrow. Instead, my thirteen year old daughter wants me to share her recent frugal haircut experience with everyone. I love that frugality is exciting and challenging to my kids rather than a drudgery, so share I must!

For as long as Leen can remember she's watched me trim my bangs in between haircuts. A few months back we took Hair Cutting For Dummies out of the library. Maybe I'm just a coward but the notion of cutting hair scares me, although I do routinely buzz the boys' hair.

In the book Leen and I saw a technique for cutting hair that was intriguing. It had you brush all the hair either straight up over your head so you look like one of those magic troll dolls from the 70's & 80's, or brush it all forward so you were holding it straight in front of your forehead. Either way you chose to brush it, you wound up cutting a straight line across the bottom which in turn layers your hair. I remember seeing an article describing this technique is Seventeen in the mid 80's.

Leen gave it a try a few months ago in a very limited, "let me leave enough so a hair dresser can fix if I screw this up" way. It must have been to her liking because she did it this weekend and took off much more length. This afternoon when she came home from school, I couldn't believe how lovely her hair was falling around her face and shoulders. She did a really good job, got a lot of compliments in school and she's thrilled. She's always hated getting her hair cut. Her only complaint was we really need to sharpen the scissors.

As for me, I did the same thing to my hair a few weeks ago and was pleased with the results as well. Just bee warned, this is a mighty simplistic explanation of how to do this. You might want to take the book out of your library for a more thorough explanation. Without the pictures in the book to guide us, I'm not sure if we would have done it.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

More Food Coop Info & Thrift Store $5 Bag Sale

Amy asked about food cooperatives that service other areas, like central Arkansas. Although I answered her in the comments section, it occurs to me that others may be curious as well. I checked out my copy of the National Green Pages from Co-op America. There is quite a list in there but the one that services central Arkansas is Ozark Cooperative Warehouse. If others are curious, post a comment and I'll see what I can find for you.

We experimented this morning with lima bean based breakfast patties using a recipe from the Compassionate Cook. Overall they were quite bland but ketchup saved the day. I'm working on ways to spice them up a bit.

Yesterday I checked out the bag sale at the thrift store. Very pleasant people running the show. I spent $5 and came home with:
a sweater
5 ladies shirts
1 boys button shirt
1 boys pair of super cool pants (at least thats what the kids said)
1 mens shirt
1 pair of ice skates
1 bathrobe

All items were in mint condition, except the ice skates. They were covered in sticky goo which my daughter cleaned off. Once cleaned off they were in excellent shape. I think the secret to successful thrift store shopping is only select clothes that are in new or nearly new shape. Thanks to thrift store my family and I wear Levis, Gap, Aeropostal, LL Bean, American Eagle, and many others.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Frugal Finds & Frugal Challenges

I just discovered a thrift store that's around the corner from my house and they're having a bag sale tomorrow. The girls are all jazzed over this and frankly so am I. Jim's agreed to take the boys to karate while we check out the sale. We've promised to switch off and take the boys so Jim can check it out if its worth it.

We had an interesting frugal challenge this week. Our hot water heater in the cabin died. Thankfully, it only flooded a small part of the crawlspace and did no real damage. After spending last weekend without hot water, replacing the hot water heater is pretty high on our to do list.

On the food front, the girls and I have been discussing ways to vary lunch options without bringing lunches that require explanations. They've both fallen into the peanut butter and jelly rut. People who go to their school are going to think all vegans eat is peanut butter and jelly! The girls have agreed to put together a list of lunch ideas, the ingredients needed and then we can decide what's cost effective and what's not.

My kids, and Jim too, love things like veggie deli slices but they have trouble taking only their allotted serving. I'm curious to see what they come up with. I heard murmurings about tortillas, rollups, lettuce before being ushered out of the room.

My second frugal find for the week was Gorilla glue. With a 40% off coupon I was able to get a 4 oz bottle at our local Michael's craft store. (If you have a Michael's near you, they have a 40% off coupon in almost every weeks sale flyer. Its only good off regular prices but its perfect ofr something that you were going to have to buy anyway. Its a great savings that so many people I know just blow off.) So far I've been able to repair the sole of my youngest sons sneaker and the peg that fell out of my son's book bag rack. The stuff is like iron! There's a whole legion of broken things waiting to be reattached now that I know it works so well.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Our New Favorite Snack Food

The place where frugality, vegetarianism/veganism, healthful foods and teenagers seem to clash the most is around the snack table. There is so much nutritionally vacant food marketed to our kids. Aside from being a waste of money in the short run, its going to cost us more in health care in the long run. So what's a mom to do?

Around here, a frugal mom experiments constantly to come up with the next great snack to include in their lunch. For those of you without teens yet, its all about what you bring to the lunch table. We've got carob chip bars from How It All Vegan, molasses cookies from Vegweb, Chocolate Coconut Chews from The Simple Treats Cookbook and so on.

Yesterday we tried something so basic its almost embarassing to mention. We put a teaspoon of nutritional yeast and half a teaspoon of season salt on our air popped popcorn along with a spray of olive oil to make it stick. It tasted like cheese doodles! The kids were all hooked.

Its something we tried years ago in our early days of vegetarianism and then never tried again. Sometimes it really pays to revisit old ideas.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

He Liked the Thermos Soup!

When I asked about the soup in his thermos, Jim said it was delicious. He's tell me if it wasn't, after 15 years of marriage, he's not shy. Now I just have to find some new wide mouth thermos containers. We've broken two recently and its beginning to put a kink in things.

Last night for our dinner I made a very simple pesto. Jim hates pesto, hence the reason for having it when he's working. Here's the recipe, its a takeoff on one that appeared in VegNews in May 2002

Place in a food processor:
two cloves of garlic
about a cup of basil leaves (I had frozen these at the end of the season)
about a cup of swiss chard (also from the freezer)
about a cup of walnuts
2 Tbs cider vinegar (lemon juice will work)
1 tsp seasoned salt

Blend the ingredients, adding water as needed to make it creamy. We served it over a pound of pasta and it was plenty for everyone.

Tonight's dinner is a bit of a mystery. I may let the kids pick another dish that Jim dislikes.