Put ‘Em Under Pressure And You Watch

So I’m – like – frigging civic minded. Last month, I went to a well-attended meeting about sustainability and didn’t punch anyone in the face, though the topic did come up. Last week, I went to a second and – fortunately for me – the face I wanted to punch didn’t put in an appearance and a mustachioed man at the other end of the table became visibly excited every time I blurted something blunt and sensible. Perhaps he was happy that someone else was interested in tasks and not subcommittees; it’s also possible he was tired and my peppery language burned a bit. Anyway, his bouncing was no doubt aerobic: I made many remarks that ended with a growled, “…why the hell not?”

It wasn’t a question. I’m colorful like that!

A member of the committee said the tiny town was interested in setting up a recipe exchange.

Tata: Go one better: make the recipes feed a family of four for $10.
Committee Member: Is that even possible?
Tata: Of course it is.
Another Committee Member: With actual food?
Tata: I double dog dare you.

Yes! I did it! I double dog dared the committee to try something tougher than talking, party throwing and meeting attending-ing. Fortunately, other people are working on this very proposition.

USA TODAY asked four dietitians who blog at dietchallenge.usatoday.com to come up with creative ways to feed a family of four for under $10 — as healthful alternatives to the meal advertised on a new KFC commercial. The company is selling seven pieces of fried chicken, four biscuits and a large side, such as mashed potatoes, for $9.99 and is challenging people to make this meal without going over that amount.

This inspiration SUCKS. Is there good news?

Cooking a meal for a family of four for under 10 bucks is a piece of cake. You can make hearty soups, sub sandwiches, chicken dishes, Sloppy Joes, large salads with leftovers, omelets and other egg dishes, nutritionists say.

USA TODAY is not the only entity interested in the challenge, but some responses are more awesome than others.

You’re saying to yourself, “No sweat, I can make you six months of recipes with one ladle tied behind my back.” Yeah, but you have to do better than a plate and a block of cheddar. That’s the caveat: that dinner for four for less than $10 must be nutritious. Don’t be shy.

Speak up. I double dog dare you.

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6 responses to “Put ‘Em Under Pressure And You Watch

  1. Like this is a tough one? And egg dishes and soups, for crying out loud?Red lentils and brown rice, and it could feed your family for a week. You can buy a 1 pound bag of organic red lentils for $3.69, and that's the expensive stuff. You'd only need a cup of that, maybe a quarter of the bag, to feed four people. Okay, you want recipes. I don't have prices here at my fingertips, but I know this is much less expensive than $10 to feed 4 people.1 cup red lentils (~cost $0.90)1 cup brown rice (~cost $0.40)3 cups Pacific foods organic free range chicken stock (~cost $$1.00)Two medium potatoesTwo carrotsSmall onionBroccoli crown or cauliflowerSimmer one cup of red lentils in three cups of stock for half an hour. And season them (salt and pepper and maybe some curry powder if curries are your thing–if not, use some red pepper flakes if the kids can handle heat and, if not, whatever seasonings they like–I do not like garlic with lentils, as a rule). Cook the brown rice in water until it is done (~45 minutes). Mix the lentils and rice together. Steam the veggies, saute the veggies (potatoes are vegetables), however you want to do it, cook the veggies.Serve them on the side. I usually do this dish by cooking the vegetables with the lentils in the stock and seasoning heavily as a curry, using almost every spice int he kitchen, with a heavy hand on the cumin because lentils seem to get along very well with cumin.You wind up with about eight cups of lentils and rice, plus the other vegetables. It is very filling and very nutritious. If that's not enough food for you, increase all the ingredients, because I guarantee you can do a LOT of this dish for under ten dollars. You can get away with just two cups of stock and use water to complete the liquid requirements if you want. That one cup of red lentils will provide everyone in the family of four with half their daily dietary fiber requirements all by itself.If you go to http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=111you'll see that the good people at whfoods.com provide less bulk to their curried lentil recipe, and the recipe sounds like a lot less than $10 to me.If you really want, I can formalize my recipe and get you real, supermarket prices. I'll even skip the expensive, organic stuff so that the price will come down significantly.

  2. Pete makes a cassoulet – same song, different beat – that rocks out loud. The committee likes fully developed ideas because anything else won't happen until …sometime…maybe. If I turn up with enough material to push with, the recipe exchange might really happen. So whaddya got?

  3. I would write to prominent people and ask them for recipes, just like Dolley Madison did when she was in the White House. I'll bet you get responses for a good cause and then you'll be able to make it look like important people support this effort and that will get it done.

  4. I didn't see what happened to Payne in the show, but wasn't Dolley the bomb? I tried googling Payne Madison, but Dolley Madison's name is Dolley Payne Madison, so I just get pages of links to her biography.Payne struck me as exactly what you'd expect from a privileged, indulged person.

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