Hunger Challenge Day Two – A Less than Exciting Dinner on Monday

Last evening’s dinner was vegetable rice casserole, based on a recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. It was healthy, inexpensive, filling, kind of dry, very bland, and really boring. I will likely make it again and use the white wine and the amounts of cheeses and sour cream the recipe specifies, which my budget did not allow this time. For instance, I used no cheddar. And with spices other than just salt and pepper, perhaps nutmeg and a little cayenne. Any way, we know we must eat it for lunch one of the next few days. Craig debated having it for lunch today so it’s gone, but the aroma of the spicy chili I made early this morning lingered in the kitchen and won him over hands down. At least we now have a few choices.
I made an observation while we were eating last evening: we were politely quiet. Actually, I don’t think we said a word. We just ate to be done so we could clean up and get on with the rest of our evening. Eating is – and should be – profoundly social. Meals are where people gather and food is shared. Delicious foods add joy to life and bring great pleasure – the tastes, aromas, texture, and appearance for food all enhance the experience of eating.

PONDER:  are those living on food stamps forced to give up this pleasure? Do they feel an isolation associated with eating, like dinner felt last evening? If you are a Food Outreach client, do you get the same pleasure from eating as most of us – or – do you view eating as a chore to get enough food to simply fill your belly and fuel your body for a day?

PONDER:  Do folks on SNAP recipients ever have an opportunity to snack? I did an early evening work out and came home “ravished” (not really, but I sure would have appreciated a bit of protein). Unfortunately, we had nothing in our budget to allow for noshing.

Broccoli Mushroom Noodle (or Rice) Casserole
The recipe below is a combination of the original recipe and the changes I’d make if I had full resources to make it yummy. I’d cut it half for the two of use and we’d still have leftovers (the original yields six servings). This would also make a lovely side dish as well as a meatless entrée.

12 ounce wide egg noodles, cooked or equivalent cooked rice
2 T butter
2 C minced onions
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 fresh bunch broccoli, minced or two large packages, frozen broccoli
11/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
3-4 large carrots, sliced
3-4 large celery stalks, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
 Freshly ground black pepper
3 C low fat cottage cheese
1 C low fat sour cream
1/4 C dry white wine
3 large eggs, beaten
1 C fine bread crumbs, preferably homemade
1 C grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

Melt the butter and add onions and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes over medium heat, then add broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, celery, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is bright green and the vegetables are just tender. Remove from heat and add the white wine.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs with cottage cheese, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Add rice (or noodles) and sautéed vegetables. Mix well. Spread into the prepared pan, and top with bread crumbs. Bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes more.


  1. You know, I'm trying really hard to build in snacks to the budget b/c I know how snacky I am. For me, if I was truly on this food budget, that's when I would use the $1 in my pocket for a bag of chips, since there's no money in the food budget to really spend on snacky foods. I'm trying to avoid this but I think most people can't.

    Great observation about the difference in socializing over food. It saddens me.

  2. Stacy, will be anxious to read your posts and see what interesting observations you see.

    Someone commented to Craig if you get a job, you don't need food stamps (I won't elaborate on this person's character - or lack of!), but one example of misonceptions about the working poor and those on SNAP.



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