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This has been the most rainy summer I can remember – and cool.  I’m not going to complain too much though because summer heat makes me miserable.  Summer is usually my least loved season.  We did most of our fall garden planting and the rain is good for those freshly planted seeds, but knocked us out of taking Deladis to see a movie for her birthday yesterday and lake swimming.  The weather and being tired of too much zucchini, squash, lettuce, and cucumber in our diets contributed to my wanting to make what, for us, is typically a cool weather supper.

Soupbeans and cornbread is an Appalachian staple.  I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t in my diet.  It was hard for me to understand how so many people I encountered from outside of this area didn’t have a clue as to what it is.  Soupbeans are commonly confused with bean soup, which is a very different dish.

Soupbeans and cornbread was a meal that was born of necessity.  With hard times came, the need for cheap and nutritious meals.  Beans and corn meal were things that most people kept on hand or were easily acquired.  Mountain cooks worked their magic and made this a meal that is not only extremely cheap, but absolutely delicious.  It is my favorite Appalachian meal, and we certainly enjoyed it last night.

soupbeans1Soupbeans (not to be confused with bean soup): Feeds a family of four for about 2 days

  • pinto beans (2 cups dry)
  • bacon fat and/or salt pork (fatback)
  • onion
  • water
  • salt and pepper

To begin, soak 2 cups of dry beans in enough water to cover them over night or preferably 24 hours.  My grandmothers called this “getting the gas out”.  They were exactly right.  Soaking makes the beans easier to digest and causes less bloating and gas.  I like to soak my beans long enough so that they sprout.  I have noticed this takes the unwanted side effects of beans completely away and cuts down on cooking time.  On the day of cooking, put the beans in a large stock pot.  Cover the beans with water, then add as much water as you want for soup.  Cut up some onion and add to the pot.  Add salt and pepper to your preference (I use unrefined sea salt for valuable nutrients.)  Then, the most important ingredient is added – fatback and/or bacon fat.  Traditionally, this was a piece of fatty pork cured in salt.  If that wasn’t available grease from the morning breakfast would suffice.  Most often bacon grease is what I have on hand and I use it generously.  Bring the ingredients to a boil and then, turn down the heat to a low-medium.  Cook the beans until they are a light reddish-brown color and soft.  This will take 2-4 hours.

soupbeans2

The food accompanying soupbeans are just as important as the main dish.  Soupbeans are traditionally served with cornbread.  The cornbread is often eaten as a side, and another piece broken up into the beans to sop the soup.  Sauerkraut is a great addition to a bowl of soupbeans.  I can’t have this meal without making fried potatoes and onions.  Both of these foods were traditionally served with soupbeans.

A great plus is all of these food items are very cheap.  This meal can easily cost under $10 and will feed a family of four one meal for around two days.  It is a hearty meal, but I warn you… it’s very easy to overeat because it is so very good.

Take a look at my page of favorite recipes to see how to make my cornbread.  I hope you enjoy this beautiful Appalachian meal created out of our great ability to “make-do”.

Planning a menu for John and I is easy.  We aren’t picky eaters in most areas.  John has a fairly plain palate when it comes to breakfast – for instance, no veggie omelets.  However, I’m becoming increasingly worried about how my girls will fair with these adjustments.  I know it’s going to take some major trial and error.  Deladis will be an especially hard one to please.  Breakfast being more grain heavy will be hard for her.  She so loves her morning over easy eggs.  I hope she will eat what we have before she lets herself get too hungry and I have to feed her cheap food from the standard American diet just to get her to eat.

Menu for the week of May 4th – 10th: (This menu was planned based on my Sat. shopping trip and what I already had on hand.)

Monday –

  • Breakfast – Banana Bread/Sausage (Using very ripe bananas left over from last month’s budget.  The goal is no waste.)
  • Lunch – Nuts/Cheese…  Chicken Nuggets/Carrots for Deladis (I am buying some non-traditional foods for Deladis as she has become very picky since her stay in the hospital in February.  She has a short list of what she will eat consistently.  This bothers me and I want to improve her diet so much.)
  • Dinner – Pork Chops/ Fried Potatoes and Onions/ Appalachian  Soupbeans (Pinto)/ Cornbread
  • Special Preparations – Make chicken bone broth.

Tuesday –

  • Breakfast – Leftover Banana Bread/Sausage
  • Lunch – Leftover Soupbeans/Cornbread… Leftover Pork Chops or Bologna/ Corn for Deladis
  • Dinner – Roast Chicken w/ Potatoes, Carrots, Celery/Peas
  • Special Preparations – soak kidney beans for baked beans

Wednesday –

  • Breakfast – Eggs/Bacon/Yogurt… Oranges for Deladis (she’s dairy allergic)
  • Lunch – Chicken Salad (leftover chicken on baby greens)… Chili Mac or Spaghetti for Deladis
  • Dinner – Split Pea Patties/Cauliflower Rice/Baked Beans
  • Special Preparations – soak oats, soak black beans

Thursday –

  • Breakfast – Oatmeal/Sausage/Banana and Raisins
  • Lunch – Leftovers or Nuts/Cheese… Noodles w/ Earth Balance Margarine for Deladis
  • Dinner – Black Bean Soup/Cornbread
  • Special Preparations – soak whole wheat flour for pancakes, soak rice

Friday –

  • Breakfast – Pancakes/Sausage/ Yogurt and Maple Syrup
  • Lunch/Dinner – Leftover Soup… John has an art opening that evening so we are combining this meal.  Eat good.
  • Special Preparations – thaw salmon

Saturday –

  • Breakfast – Rice Pudding/Sausage
  • Lunch/Dinner – Leftovers and Finger Foods (We’ll be spending the day out and about mostly.)

Sunday

  • Breakfast – Eggs/Sausage/Banana or Pineapples
  • Lunch/Dinner – Salmon Fillets/Fried Sweet Potatoes/Salad (We eat dinner after church so the rest of the day will be snacks.)

My main concern is the grains.  It certainly is after reading this on Nourished Kitchen, but I don’t see any way around it right now.  I’m debating on what is a more crucial choice to make about our egg situation – keep the current menu style or switch to purchasing conventional eggs so we can cut back on the grains for breakfast.  What is the lesser evil?  And poor Deladis…  I so hope we get our chickens soon.

If anyone sees anything I’m missing, or has any suggestions on how to feed Deladis better foods, or our overall dietary health as a family, please feel free to comment.  I appreciate advice.

I’ve got $269 a month to work with, and it has become necessary to plan a menu and stick to a grocery list.  I will have to cut back on certain food stuffs we purchase, and I will have to spend a bit more time in food preparation.  See my posts on food to learn more about the Traditional/Whole Foods way of eating.

I’ve made the following adjustments to my food choices:

  • Purchase organic fresh fruits and veggies only from the Dirty Dozen list.  Frozen veggies will suffice in place of fresh ones to save money.
  • Make my own sausage out of ground turkey, chicken, pork, or lamb, whichever I can find at the time.  With sausage $2.29 a pound and bacon $4.99 for 12 slices, I have to cut back there.  We eat meat every morning for breakfast.
  • Cut back on egg use.  (Ultimate goal is to get our own chickens.) Organic eggs are $3.49 a dozen.  We easily use 6 a day.  I will be adding more grains in our breakfasts and more potatoes.  I worry about Deladis here as she loves eggs, but I hope her tastes will warm to the new menu as we go.
  • Use more potatoes and rice to try to avoid using too much wheat.  Limit grains when I can.
  • Use more beans and lentils.
  • Buy more whole chickens and ground meats.  They go further, and you can make bone broths for soups.
  • Buy local honey instead of organic.  Should have been doing that anyway.  Local benefits allergies more.
  • Make Deladis’s rice and/or nut milks myself.
  • Do not buy outside of the store list.
  • Purchase a yogurt starter culture to make my own yogurt.
  • Purchase a sourdough or attempt to make a sourdough starter culture for bread making.  I will be making our bread from here on out as we will be eating more breads.
  • Purchase grains, nuts, spices from the Mennonite Bulk Foods store.
  • Do not buy baby food purees or pre-made snacks for Ivy.  I will make my own purees for her, or she will eat from what we are eating.

I went grocery shopping Saturday and spent $105.33.  With what I already have in the freezer and cupboards, I’m hoping to make what I purchased last most of the month.  I know I will have to replenish dairy products and breakfast meats.  I did find that I cannot make sausage any cheaper than I can buy it.  I can actually buy Swaggerty’s MSG free sausage for cheaper than making my own.  The bacon we have to cut back on.  One or two packages a month will have to be enough.  It’s too bad, because I so love cooking with bacon fat.  I have not bought my oats, nuts or spices yet as the bulk food store was closed.

I also bought a few things that were not on my list.  They were on sale and I rationalized the purchases.  I hope those decisions don’t come back to get me.  My goal was to stick to my list.

Saturday’s Purchases and Prices: Things crossed out will be purchased later.

  • organic whole milk (1 gallon) – $3.85
  • organic half and half (2 pints) – $1.49 (The organic wasn’t in stock.  I bought only 1 pint of regular.)
  • organic eggs (2 dozen) – $6.98 (I have six more left over in the fridge.  I’m going to try to stretch that to cover the whole month.)
  • organic raisins – $2.79
  • oats
  • nuts
  • honey
  • Babybel cheese – $2.99
  • Bacon – $4.99
  • Whole Chickens (2) – $12.23
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • old bay” seasoning, rosemary, fennel, tarragon, coriander, cardamon, fenugreek, green peppercorns, file powder
  • organic green peppers (2) – $1.46 (organic wasn’t in stock. 😦 )
  • red peppers (2) – organic is not available here – $4.38
  • onions – $1.88
  • juice for the girls – $6.33
  • 2 lbs. ground beef – $8.50 (I have one pound in the freezer to add to this amount.)
  • pork chops (optional as we have plenty of rabbit in the freezer) – $3.02
  • expeller pressed flax oil
  • organic salad greens – $3.49
  • organic petite carrots – $1.50
  • mandarin oranges – $2.00 (4 cans)
  • brussel sprouts (frozen) – $1.79
  • lemons (6) – $1.98 (organic wasn’t in stock.)
  • 4 tomatoes – $5.81 (organic not available in fresh tomatoes)
  • cilantro (fresh) – $.99
  • rice milk for Deladis until I figure out how to make it – $7.00 (1 gallon)
  • sour cream – $2.73
  • ketchup for Deladis until I figure out how to make it – $2.49

Purchases not on my list.

Salsa (2 jars) – $5.98, Anchovys – $1.45, Sardines $1.00

I’m happy with this list and how much I purchased for the price.  Maybe I’m kidding myself in thinking we won’t run out of food or money to buy more before the end of this month, but it doesn’t seem that way so far.  I will post my menu for this week on Thursday, and tell you how food preparation is fitting into our rhythm.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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