Food Bloggers Against Hunger: A Recipe from my Grandmother

When I make my weekly run to the grocery store, long list in hand, I rarely look at prices – and most days I take that luxury for granted.  For this day, for this post, I’m stopping to think about how truly lucky I am.

Lillian

My grandmother.

Signing on to Food Bloggers Against Hunger (along with over 200 bloggers!) has made me pause, to take stock, to whittle down my grocery list to the bare essentials – to compare prices.  I went to the grocery store armed with $4 and a very short list.  When I thought about how I would stretch that $4, I immediately thought of this dish.  It’s one my Sicilian grandmother made for her family of five.  I’m sure that there were many nights when my grandmother had to stretch a few ingredients to feed her hungry kids – and this dish would’ve have filled their bellies.  She might have added scrambled eggs to this dish – and probably a handful of Parmesano Reggiano if she had it.  This recipe has stood the test of time – my father made it for his family and we kids always thought it was a treat.  Later, it became one of my go-to recipes as a singleton and it’s never failed to satisfy.

Incidentally, I came in under $4 – with nearly a whole whopping dollar to spare.  Here’s how my purchases added up:

Green bell pepper: $0.68
Potato: $0.78
Yellow onion: $0.63
15 oz. can great northern beans: $0.68
Tax: $0.27
Total: $3.04

Instead of eggs or tofu, I added a can of white beans – a bargain.  My grandmother probably would have used olive oil to prepare this dish, but since I run an oil-free kitchen, I’ve cooked mine in some vegetable broth, soy sauce and water.

A Place at the Table

I hope after reading this post you’ll click here and take 30 seconds and send a letter to Congress asking them to support anti-hunger legislation. Your participation will help protect nutrition programs that help kids get much-needed food into their bellies.  For more detailed information, visit Share Our Strength – and check out the documentary, A Place at the Table, via Amazon or iTunes.  Thank you, The Giving Table, for organizing this event.

ingredients

Peppers, Potatoes, Beans & Onions
Serves 4

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, cored and sliced
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced and divided
1 large potato, scrubbed and peeled
1 15 oz. can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
splash of vegetable broth, water, and or soy sauce
ground black pepper, to taste

Peel and wash the potato, then cut into small cubes.  Pour a little water and soy sauce into a baking dish.  Add the potato, 1/3 of the minced garlic and plenty of ground black pepper.  Now – turn on the oven to 425F and put the pan with the potatoes in the oven.  I start with a cold oven for roasting potatoes because I discovered that they stick less to the pan this way.  Keep a close eye on these guys and add water/broth/soy sauce as necessary to prevent sticking.  They’ll soften and brown a little bit.  After about 20 minutes, they should be done.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat a little water/vegetable broth and add the bell pepper, onion and garlic.  Sauté for 10 minutes or until veggies are soft.  Add water/broth as necessary to prevent sticking.  Stir in the beans and the potatoes, and season with pepper.  Cook just enough to heat the beans through.  Serve immediately.

bowls

42 thoughts on “Food Bloggers Against Hunger: A Recipe from my Grandmother

  1. Choc Chip Uru

    You my friend are absolutely wonderful, always blogging for a better cause, it is inspirational – a wonderful recipe and it is fighting hunger 🙂
    lovely!
    And of course I will send a letter to support the cause!

    Cheers
    CCU

    Reply
  2. tearoomdelights

    So simple and yet such a satisfying result. The photo of your grandmother is lovely. I echo Choc Chip Uru’s sentiments, you consistently do such a great job with your blog posts! I didn’t realise you never used oil for cooking, is that for health reasons?

    Reply
    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      I go very light on oils/added fats and use them mainly in baking – some things just do better with a touch of oil. Yes, I cook that way for (heart) health reasons. It took some adjusting but I don’t really think about it anymore.

      Reply
    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Thanks, Gabby. Yep, our elders certainly knew how to make do with very little and to stretch a dollar. And I’m sure my grandmother was an excellent cook (I never knew her) even when she had only a few ingredients with which to work. I realize how very spoiled and fortunate I am.

      Reply
  3. Alex Caspero MA,RD (@delishknowledge)

    I loved a place at the table, a cause we all “know” about but a good reminder about how common and tragic hunger can be. I love this project from food bloggers- your recipe looks like the perfect, simple meal. Our cheap meal growing up used to be white beans and spinach. Funny how I hated it then but really appreciate it now!

    Reply
    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Hi Alex – thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I’m thrilled that so many bloggers have taken up this cause today, and you’re right. We all know there are far too many children going hungry right now, but we feel helpless or are just caught up in our own lives. These simple things – watching the movie, sharing it and clicking on the link to send a message to our elected officials will make a difference!

      Reply
  4. narf77

    I LOVE potatoes but have given them up for lent 😉 Much like your oil free kitchen, mine has to be potato free now to free me from my serious addiction… As kids living in a single parent household we NEVER went hungry (my girth was an indication of how un-hungry we went 😉 ) and fruit and veggies were always grown in my grandparents and mothers gardens so we didn’t go without. I remember mums “potato fritters” which were what you guys call latkes? We loved them and we ate a lot of soup and bread. I think we have specialised ourselves outside our comfort zone and the way that we eat is a serious indictment of how society has skewed itself outside it’s natural food range. When we visited the U.K. back in 2005/2006 the cheapest way to eat was from frozen food supermarkets. We don’t have them here in Australia so it was like walking into a “winter wonderland” of produce. Everything was cheap! You could buy 20lb of french fries for dollars but the equivalent fresh potatoes were very expensive. We lived on garbage (and I put on 10lb in the 6 weeks I was there) because “garbage” was cheap for a family of 5. A society that subsidises the production of empty calories over the production of nutritious food is a society in trouble. Cheers for sharing this wonderful cause 🙂

    Reply
    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      You must be jonesing for taters, girl! Admirable that you gave up the tasty spuds – love them myself quite a lot.

      For sure we are totally topsy-turvy in our food priorities. It’s the fresh stuff, the WHOLE foods that should be the most reasonably priced. The stuff the nourishes brain and body. But alas, our addictions to convenience and speed – not to mention salt, sugar and fat – have been our undoing. Maybe, maybe the tide will turn. Probably when the healthy care system has completely collapsed…Boy, I’m the doom-and-gloomer today, aren’t I??

      Reply
      1. narf77

        Nah…the truth will out Annie, may as well be a compasionate vegan doing the outing 😉 and by the way cheers for reminding me that I am now a tater pariah 🙁 Just one spud and I am off dancing naked in the garden and waking up the next day in a fugish haze of excess and debauchery :(.

  5. Angela @ Canned Time

    What a wonderful meal and how lucky you are to have had a real Sicilian Grandma!
    Simple is best, except I tend to eat at least one pepper while I’m cutting them up for a recipe so my expense would be slightly higher. Especially since green pepper is usually almost $2 a piece here in DC, ARRGGG. So glad you posted today.
    Grandmom would be proud I know 😉

    Reply
  6. leroywatson4

    Lovely post with all the right sentiments ringing true. There may be little glamour in frugality, but who gives a hoot about glamour anyway. We live in the Welsh hills surrounded by sheep droppings. Treating each veggie and ingredient respect is the way forward, thank for reminding me of this. Peace and Happiness, lee

    Reply
    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Thank you, Lee! We live amongst cow droppings 😉 and our own fickle garden, so maybe there is something to living so close to nature – gives one a respect for where real food comes from and how good simple can taste!

      Reply
  7. Shira

    Fantastic post & recipe Annie, one I’ll be sure to riff on as I love a good pot of white beans and always forget how good green peppers are too! your grandmother obviously knew a thing or two about good food! xx

    Reply
  8. fifthfloorkitchen

    Great post! What a good way to bring back recipes that our older generations used, since they had to keep costs low. Glad to participate in this event with you, and find you blog!

    Reply
  9. Cauldrons and Cupcakes

    Simple, satisfying and imbued with wisdom and love. Great to see such a good cause too! It’s amazing how a few humble ingredients can go so far, The world needs gardens and basic cooking skills!

    Reply
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