back to reality…

It can be jarring to come back to Chicago after a week in a tropical paradise, especially when you are eating goodies like this:

Here’s a picture of the Asian inspired chicken salad I made last week at my grandparents’ house. Isn’t it pretty?

Returning home means lots of good things. Quality time with my main man, bike riding around my hood, and regrouping are all wonderful reminders of why I love my city. One thing that isn’t fun, however, is a lack of funds and a lack of groceries. Has this ever happened to you?

Now, we all know that the economy isn’t the sunniest right now. We also know that these things go in cycles, but while I was out of town, I did a little computing an realized that I’m going to have to put myself on a pretty strict budget through the summer. This isn’t as bad as it seems- summer time is prime for saving funds- the beach is free, gas bills aren’t as expensive, and taking a cab is out of the question when you’ve got a helmet and wheels. With my move coming up in July and a few weddings over the next few months, I have to be serious about watching my pennies.

One of the first ways to make this possible is to organize yourself and get rid of things you don’t need. Over the past few months, my bedroom has become a glorified locker. A clean room/ space always makes it easier to focus, which is what I need when planning out my spending habits. Spring cleaning seemed to be in order, so I started doing a massive clean-up this morning, and already have 2 bags of clothes and 2 bags of books that I don’t need anymore! It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s that I don’t need them, and someone else will be able to put them to better use. After all that cleaning, I more than a little hungry and decided to take a break.

Not as easy as you might think… After being out of town for 8 nights, my larder is seriously depleted. Normally, I would run to the corner store and get the ingredients for a wonderful feast. However, I did have a few things handy, and my cilantro plant was looking mighty tasty.

I grabbed some cilantro from my plant, a clove of garlic that wasn’t quite bad yet, and a few carrots that looked almost past their prime. Luckily I had a can of pinto beans, and can of tomatillo salsa, and a bag of rice. It might not be the most luxurious meal, but rice and beans can be super tasty and is really good for you if you don’t load it with cheese and lard.

I sauteed the beans with carrots and garlic

Cooked up some rice, and topped it with half a slice of Munster cheese, some salsa, and fresh cilantro.

Not so bad for having “nothing to eat”

As a side note- with all the food shortages and droughts going on in the world, it’s really important to remember that you are lucky if you have “extra food.” While my lunch might have been better with a fresh avocado and some limes, I am full and happy and ready to do stage II of spring cleaning ’08. The more I read about what is going on with food supply, the more I realize how lucky I am.