I haven’t shared a cheap eating recipe in a long while. This is a sad thing. While Sci is no longer a starving grad student, I AM still a post-doc, and we don’t get paid much better. And living in a Big Honkin’ City is no financial treat, either. This recipe, which I snagged from my Mother in Law, is a really lovely vegetarian soup, warm and filly, and perfect for those long winter nights in the lab!
Sci recently got a slow cooker (aka a crockpot, aka whatever else you call those things). I’ve been wanting one for ages, it seems like a fabulous way to eat cheap and healthy, not to mention one that is suitable for the academic lifestyle (chuck stuff in the pot, go to lab for 8 hours, and then you HAVE to go home because you left the crockpot on! Not only that, it makes LARGE quantities that a hungry grad student/postdoc can eat off of for a week. Wins all around).
And the first thing I wanted to try? Hot and sour soup. I LOVE hot and sour soup in a way that’s almost frightening. It brings back fond memories for me, and is wonderful for chasing away the cold of winter nights. This version is vegan (because I found it in a vegetarian/vegan slow cooker book, is why), and reminds me oh so much of fond memories as a kid. I recommend adding more chili paste than listed if you’re used to the real stuff.
I have to say I had a rough time organizing this post. So many recipes came in, through all different methods! Comments, emails, TWEETS. Sometimes, I think there are too many forms of communication. And there are SO MANY RECIPES!!! SO MANY! They just kept coming and coming… So I tried to get them all, but I may have missed one or two. Srsly, I blogged it started last WEEK, added more, and then realized I missed some and added EVEN MORE. Hopefully I’m not still missing people
So, let’s get started. Are we all in the mood for food?
Sci will admit I actually had to have a snack before putting this thing together, otherwise it was just too tempting!!!
And now, behold! The most delicious, and cheapest, and sometimes even healthiest things the grad blogsphere could put together!! It’s a big one, so let’s get started.
Sci’s been in grad school, not so long ago. She knows how HARD it was to make ends meet, and to eat even close to healthy on a budget. But over time, she learned that it wasn’t impossible. There are good foods out there, quick to prepare and tasty to eat! And as grad students, we are all in this together! So let’s share some recipes, get together, and show the world that grad students are BETTER than Ramen! (Well, ok, maybe SOME of the time we are better than Ramen).
So submit to Sci your recipes by October 30th!!! I require
1) Recipe: with ingredients and instructions
2) A basic price breakdown, can be VERY basic, but the idea is, if it costs $20 or more, it better feed more than 6.
That’s not so hard, is it?! Sci’s been posting her recipes for inspiration, and today I post one that is special. It is special because it’s the only recipe that I have ever really tweaked on my own to make it something that is all mine.
May I introduce…Sci’s very own Scicuriously Lazy Healthy Stuffed Cabbage.
Sci will be hosting a Grad Student Eating in Style CARNIVAL on November 1!!! I’d like to have a cutoff for submissions on the 30th. SO, you have 18 days to give me your recipes!!!
MUST they be healthy? Not really.
MUST they be low calorie or contain veggies? Nope!
MUST they be CHEAP?!? ABSOFRAKKIN’LUTELY!!!
So submit to Sci your recipes, with list of ingredients, and a rough price point for how much it all costs. Simple is often better in these cases, and I think we can make up some delicious foods! Ramen recipes are encouraged. If you can make THAT stuff worthwhile, you’re a grad student hero!
And SPEAKING of ramen, Sci is reposting below her own, in-lab remix of Ramen, that I used to while away the late nights while I was stuck in the lab in grad school. You can make it on a hotplate or in the microwave, but PLEASE BYO glassware.
Firstly, I’d like everyone to note that there is now a specific category for Grad Student Eating in Style! Hopefully I will get a few more recipes in there soon.
Every time I tell someone I’m making Okonomiyaki, they ALWAYS look at me with an eyebrow up and say “what’s THAT”?
Except for MicroDoc, who taught me the recipe. She says “mmm, I am coming over for dinner then?”
Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake from Japan. It’s super easy to make (at least, by my recipe, which isn’t what everyone else does), really tasty, filling, and a fun thing to make together with friends.
You will need:
2 cups flour (I use whole grain, but most people use regular)
1 cup of water
Shredded imitation crab meat (optional)
Tonkatsu Sauce (I’ll cover this in a minute)
Fish flakes (optional)
Take the two eggs and the flour and the water. Beat them together until you’ve got a nice smooth batter. Mix in your shredded cabbage, a good few handfuls (this one is really something you throw together, I really like more cabbage, but opinions vary). Spray down a small nonstick frying pan, and put a small glop of your dough in there (I like my stove med to med-high). Flatten out your glop with a spatula (use a plastic one if you have one, the metal ones get REALLY goopy). Add your crap meat on top. Make like a pancake, flipping over until it’s all done and nice and brown.
Serve with Tonkatsu sauce and mayonnaise.
NOTE: DO NOT let your pancake get too thick! You’ll have the worst time getting it to cook all the way through.
Final result will look like this:
Now: Tonkatsu sauce. This is a veggie and fruit based sauce that is kind of thick, and completely delicious.
Price Breakdown for the Hungry Grad Student:
(someone pointed out to me by email that prices are highly relative, and the dude is probably right. That said, I can still do something approximate, to give you an idea as to how much this makes for a rough price.)
Flour: $2.99 for a large amount
Cabbage (pre-shredded): $2.69 or so for a bag of the stuff. You get enough to make two full batches of this easy.
Fake crab meat: $1.74
Tonkatsu sauce: $4.69, but you’ll use it forever
Mayonnaise: $2.99 for a bunch of it (I always skip the mayo)
Pan spray: $3.99 (you’ll use it forever)
Total: $21.09, less if you skip the mayo. The recipe serves 4 pancakes, but if you buy everything fresh you will have enough for two recipes worth, so that’s $21.09 for 8 cakes. Not so bad!
The things that Sci thinks of when she hasn’t had enough coffee…
So here it is. Sci often trades recipes with people. Cheap, easy ones mostly, the cheaper the better. She has posted some of her own on this blog. And then one morning I thought, wouldn’t it be GREAT if hungry grad students could find easy recipes that weren’t horrible for you, were FAST, and were, above all things, CHEAP?! I mean, wouldn’t this be great? Of course it would.
And then I thought: I SHALL WRITE A COOKBOOK.
And then I thought: nah…that’s too much work. But I could host a CARNIVAL!!!
And so, I would like to host a carnival, let’s say in…oh I don’t know, how’s November 1 for you all? I can post all of your recipes that you send me, and we can show that grad students don’t have to STARVE! We can eat, and we can even eat a fairly balanced diet! It might be a great thing for others on budgets as well (like post-docs and science writers).
SO. Sci’s got her apron on. She’s got her spoon.
Let’s do this thing! Send me your recipes!!!
1) Please include a full list of ingredients and full instructions.
2) Please include a PRICE BREAKDOWN for how much it costs, with a total yield. This being for hungry grad students, anything that costs more than say $20 to make really better make more than 6 servings, I’m thinking. Of course there are exceptions.
3) Please let me know whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
4) Calories counts a bonus, but not necessary.
Sci will be posting a few more of her recipes as we go. Anyone else excited? This could be fun! Spread the word!!
I’m sure you all know how much Sci loves her baked goods. For those who don’t know yet, check out my scone recipe! People who have tried it (n=5 at last count) all say it’s tasty. Go Me!
But of course, you can’t have something sweet for breakfast EVERY day. Well, at least, I can’t. Some mornings, I really want something kind of hearty and filling and delicious. And it’s days like that when I pass those Bruegger’s and Panera signs and SIGH. Delicious bagel with egg and cheese…om nom nom. During grad school, MicroDoc and I used to go every week to Bruegger’s early in the morning, and talk about grad life over bagels and coffee. Definitely one of my fondest memories of the grad school experience.
NOTE: When hanging out with people in grad school, breakfast is the cheapest meal. I’m not kidding. So if you want to hang out on a budget, don’t go out for dinner or lunch, go out for breakfast. Bruegger’s has the bagel with egg and cheese with coffee for under $5. It’s a very good way to be social when you’re strapped for cash.
ANYWAY, after a while of walking by Bruegger’s on the way to my post-doc and sighing and missing MicroDoc, I started thinking “you know, I can do that myself, I bet”.
And yes. I can.
For cheaper. And healthier (which is always nice).
BEHOLD! The poverty stricken student’s breakfast sandwich!
Anyone who follows Sci’s twitter feed (you can grab it in the upper right of the blog! Is that a cute feature or what!) will know that Sci LOVES her scones. And cake. And cupcakes. And croissants. Basically, I love baked goods. They are made of awesome and win. I was listening to a podcast on what makes us human the other day, and they were going through things like the rapid propagation of new ideas coupled with creativity coupled with language and fire and other stuff. Sci has given a lot of (very amateur) thought to this herself. But at the time, I was hungry, and my main thought was “well DUH, only humans can BAKE!”
And really, scones might be a cute thing to represent the best of human evolution. They are so…civilized. And so delicious. And so portable. They are the perfect mixture of sweet and crumbly, and go wonderfully with tea OR coffee. Also they are delicious. Did I mention delicious?
Anyway, a few days ago Sci decided to develop the scone. I started out on this recipe, replicated below, and made some of my own modifications.
First off, Sci would like to extend a pleased and blushing THANK YOU!! to all the people who voted for her in the Three Quarks Daily Contest.
We’re in the top 20!!! I’m so thrilled by all the love. And by the fact that hyena mating is CLEARLY some sweet stuff. Well, of course it is. Sci would also like to give shout-outs to the other well-deserved semi-finalists, including Ed of Not Exactly Rocket Science (Ed always dominates, and I LOVE that gut bacteria post), Eric of Primate Diaries, Jason of The Thoughtful Animal, and Christie of Observations of a Nerd! We all rock so hard.. Fistbump!
(The proper way to express scientific awesome)
And now, on to today’s post, which involves cake and chocolate and therefore can challenge 3 Quarks Daily anyday.
Sci may no longer be a grad student (at least, they tell her she’s making post-doc stipend), but living in Huge New City isn’t exactly cheap. So while technically Sci’s a PhD, her standard of living has remained roughly the same.
And so, Sci brings you another in her (so far) two part series on eating like a grad student. She may have another one on the bean hodge podge her friend made up, which is nutritious, filling, and makes enough to last you a week (lunch AND dinner) for around $7.
But for now, let’s talk about pot lucks.
You know pot lucks, those things where people ask you to bring your own results of culinary genius to share with others. They are supposed to save money (you only have to make one dish), and supposed to make everyone happy, but for people like Sci…they are tough. Sci often ends up being the one who brings the soda or chips. This is because, unlike all the hardcore foodies sitting around on ScienceBlogs…Sci can’t cook. Well, ok. She’s up to a grilled chicken breast, steamed veggies, or an omelet, does a lot of rice and pasta, and she makes a mean curry. But other than that…well.
(No matter how many years of PhD or tenure or emer-itis, nothing will diminish my love of PhD comics. I LOVE YOU, JORGE! OVER HERE!!!! WRITE ABOUT SCI!!!!)
And so potlucks were embarrassing. No matter what I tried to make, it always came out looking icky and not well done, and though people ate it, I’m not sure they enjoyed themselves. This was made even harder by the fact that all of Sci’s friends and co-workers LOVE to be gourmands and make seriously crazy, seriously expensive food which involves things like star anise and polenta, and who loved to cater to the vegetarian, organic, and health conscious. I felt like I could never measure up and was the one continuously bringing crappy food.
And then I discovered CAKE BALLS.