Sunday, October 31, 2010

Supporting the Local Newspaper, Fair Trade and a Simple Curried Lentil Soup Recipe

One of the regular readers of this blog has commented about the amazing amount of money she saves by combining coupons with store-run specials. I've never been a coupon-clipper because I try to eat as much locally grown, minimally processed, minimally packaged food as possible, and that's not the sort of food you can buy with coupons. So for me, coupon-clipping hasn't seemed worth the time.

However, I do buy personal care and household products which aren't made locally or available at the co-op. And, as this reader points out, I could contribute more to my local food bank if I were finding the sorts of deals she finds.

This gave me a great excuse to buy our local paper today.

As it happens, I've been feeling badly about not supporting The Day. The paper is struggling. Employees have been laid off and others have taken furloughs in order to avoid being laid off. I rely on this paper for information on local politics, other local news, and events around town. I have friends who rely on The Day for employment. And yet, because I read most of my news online, I'm part of the reason the paper is fighting for survival.

The truth is I can't afford to buy a newspaper daily, nor am I comfortable generating so much paper waste. Even $2 per week for the Sunday paper adds up to $104/year--a lot for someone with my income. However, if I were to start using coupons from the Sunday paper for items like tooth brushes and toilet paper, I could potentially give the paper a little support at no cost to myself. And regarding the paper waste: Jake and I can use most of it to line our pet rabbits' hay area and recycle the rest.

Jake and I also went to Bean and Leaf today to buy a pound of coffee. We pay $10.60/lb. for their locally roasted, organic fair trade coffee. Other than pet food, this is the biggest luxury in our weekly budget. We don't pay this much because we're coffee snobs (although Bean and Leaf's coffee does taste remarkably good.) We do it because we believe in fair trade. I'd rather stop drinking coffee than buy it cheaply because I exploited people I'll never meet. (It may come to that very soon.) We also each drank a small cup of coffee at the cafe while listening to a local musician.

Sorry about the bad photo.  I took it late in the day with poor light.
Lastly, in case you were wondering what I did with the lentils I bought earlier in the week:

Simple Cheap Good Curried Lentil Soup
2 cups lentils (I used small brown lentils)
1 fairly large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 hot pepper, minced (more or less to taste and depending on the heat of your curry powder)
1/4 cup curry powder (I used organic curry powder from Mountain Rose Herbs, one of the suppliers I use for my business.)
A few tablespoons olive oil or other oil of your choice
salt to taste

Soak lentils in plenty of water overnight or most of the day. (This is optional, and I know most cookbooks say not to soak lentils. But I find that soaking lentils makes them more digestible as well as shortens the cooking time.) Rinse and drain lentils and set aside.

Lightly sautee garlic and onions in the oil without letting the garlic brown. Add celery, carrots, hot pepper and curry powder and cook a few minutes more. Add lentils and water to generously cover. Bring to a boil,then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir once in a while and add more water as needed. When the lentils are soft--in as little as half an hour if you've soaked them--add salt to taste. I like quite a bit of sea salt, about a teaspoon. If you have a blender, blend a portion of the soup and return it to the pot. But it is also good as is.

I like to eat this as soup the first night, then serve it over brown rice the next day.

Consumption Totals:
Newspaper: $2
Coffee for home (my share) $5.30
Coffee as entertainment: $2
Miles driven: 0

Tomorrow I'll take a look back at my weekly consumption totals.

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