May 5, 2009

Cheap Friends

Dinner tonight with dear friends: delicious, fun, interactive and cheap, topped off with entertainment by an over-inspired children's theatrical presentation featuring The King of the Sun, The God of the Jewels, and The Wizard of Oz. But cheap does not mean meager, especially with Sarah around. Here's the menu and rough costs.

Salad: Fresh local spinach with oil & vinegar dressing
  • Spinach - $2 from Armande's organic farm up the street (would have been free if we'd got our greenhouse planted sooner, like she did)
  • Oil and balsamic dressing - $.50, mixed by us (ie, not a bottle from the store)
Main Course: Stinging Nettle Lasagna
  • Stinging nettles - free, picked by me and the kids then boiled and pureed
  • Lasagna noodles - $1 for flour & egg in the dough, then run through the manual pasta-maker by the kids (note, no price assigned to child labour)
  • Tomato sauce - $2 for local organic tomatoes frozen last fall
  • Mushrooms - $1 (pureed into the sauce to hide them from Zekiah)
  • Ricotta and Mozzarella cheese - $8 (price will come down when we start making our own cheese from the cow- and goat-share milk, but haven't yet bought a water buffalo to make real mozzarella...)
Side Dish: Dandelion Pita Bread with Hummus:
  • Dandelions - free, picked the other morning for our visitor's breakfast pancakes
  • Flour, yeast, garlic, pecans - $2
  • Chick peas, tahini, lemon, garlic - $2
Drinks: Pure, fresh, refreshing well-water

Dessert: Rhubarb Custard with Blackberries

  • Organic eggs for custard - $3.50: approximate cost per dozen for caring for our own chickens
  • Rhubarb - free, just sprang up in our garden
  • Blackberries - free, picked roadside and frozen last fall
So, $22 - less than $3 per person - for a truly delicious, healthy meal that everyone got to contribute to. A restaurant meal with that many fresh organic ingredients - if one could find that restaurant - would have easily cost $20 each, so we "saved" over $200.

Yes it was more preparation time than going to a restaurant, but that time (note that I didn't use the word "work") was part of our together experience, part of what made the evening so gathered. And really, what are time and life and friends for if not to pick and eat stinging nettles and dandelions?

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