Category Archives: On the Cheap

A Moment in the Kitchen: Moroccan Salt-Preserved Lemons

From JH:


Citrus sits especially well with me during the holidays. As does canning. The obvious next step: Moroccan Salt-Preserved lemons. After consulting recipes from  Anthony Bourdain, David Lebovitz, and Epicurious, I dove into a slightly modified version of their useful recipes (yes to cinnamon and cloves; skip the bay leaves and black peppercorns), and then waited 30 days before presenting them to my curious holiday party hostesses and colleagues. What does one do with salt-preserved lemons? I steep them in hot water with a bit of honey and make tea, but they’re traditionally used in Moroccan tangines, and I imagine they’d make a delicious accompaniment to extra-sharp cheeses, too. It’s times like these that I envy those out in California. Remember this?

30 days after sealing, the lemons have softened


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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, Gift Ideas, On the Cheap, Raw Materials

The Lunchbox: 5 Good Reasons to Bring your Lunch

From DW:

leftovers for lunch

1. $10 a day x 5 days a week=$2600 a year. That could buy birthday dinner for 4 friends and myself at Masa (NYC’s most expensive prixe-fix), that Isabel Marant leopard coat I am lusting after, a yoga trip in the dead of February for two to Playa Venao, or an EOS Canon Rebel with a few lenses.

2. My diet plan of eating light lunches inevitably fails when I am starving. To avoid that, I am now eating breakfast and bring my lunch. The food I make tastes a million times better than Fritos and M&Ms.

3. Risk of exposure to H1N1 and other seasonal flus and colds at buffet-style delis…eeks.

4. Adorable bento boxes and amazing lunchboxes. I’d eat anything packed in these!

5. Think of all the time I will save not having to decide on what I’m going to eat, and how. Time better spent stalking cyber-stalking blogs, planning a vacation, or reading something inspiring.

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, On the Cheap

A Moment in the Kitchen: Mint Tea

From JH:

a moment in the kitchen: mint tea

homegrown and handmade

In my ongoing effort to use all of summer’s mint before winter gets it, I dried a bunch and rigged two dozen tea bags. Hang the mint upside down for two weeks. Then, when it’s so dry it crumbles, bundle 2 tbsp-doses in double-layered, extra-fine cheesecloth, and secure the pouches with kitchen twine.

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Filed under Do It Yourself, Gift Ideas, On the Cheap, Raw Materials, Reimagining

Another Moment in the Kitchen with More Green Tomato Pickles

From JH:

ready for gifting

ready for gifting

Same great recipe. Just a new, more polished look. The labels, I bought at Kate’s Paperie, but they’re made by Cavallini Papers & Co. After dressing the tops of the jars with everything from ticker-stripes to chintz, I decided that I still like the natural burlap and kitchen twine best. Should you, like me, be opposed to buying over-prized burlap, I suggest hitting up your neighborhood restaurants for empty potato sacks. I’d bet they’re free.

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, Gift Ideas, On the Cheap

A Moment in the Kitchen: Roasted Tomato Sauce

From JH:

roasted H&O tomatoes

roasted H&O tomatoes

With the very last of my garden’s ripe tomatoes, I decided to make sauce. And because these tomatoes weren’t the sweetest (cold weather is the culprit, I suspect), I chose to roast them before turning them into a pomodoro. My recipe is an on-the-spot improvisation. I used:

As many tomatoes as you see above (a mix of Jersey Devils, Tommy Toes, Austin Red Pears, and one San Marzano)

4 cloves of garlic (stiff-neck, my new favorite), smashed

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine (Cote-de-Brouilly Beaujolais, specifically, but any hearty drinking wine will do)

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Put the tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet, and drizzle them with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt. Cook them in the oven on the center rack for approximately 20 minutes, or until some of the tomatoes are brown and others look like they’ve “popped.” Transfer the tomatoes/garlic and their oil to a large sauce pan, smoosh them until they’re saucy, add the wine and cracked pepper and bring to a boil. Once the sauce begins to boil, turn the heat to Low, and let simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Add salt to taste.

I must say, I’m pretty pleased with how my sauce turned out. Again, that it was made from tomatoes that I grew myself makes it even more delicious. And to make that satisfaction last just a little bit longer, I chose to freeze the sauce for later. Won’t it be so wonderful to have summer tomato sauce on a winter’s night not too far from now. Yes, I think it will.

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, On the Cheap, The Growth of a Garden

A Moment in the Kitchen: Green Tomato Pickles

From JH:

the star fruit

the star fruit

In earlier posts I mentioned my recent trip to see JB’s family in California’s Bay Area. Though the reasons for my visit were many, it’s fair to say that the driving force behind my travels were these: Green Tomato Pickles. Every summer before the tomatoes ripen JB’s mom, Mrs. B, makes a batch or two, and this year she invited me to join her. Now, you’ve got to assume that I was thrilled to accept the invitation, and you’re right, I was. But fly across the country for food, you ask? Are a few sweet pickles worth all of that effort? When they come with quality time with loved ones, yes. Yes they are.

Thankfully, I have Mrs. B’s permission to reprint the famous pickle recipe here at H&O. Note that before this I had never pickled a thing in my life, which is to say, I am still no expert, so bear with me. It starts with tomatoes, the most beautiful, unripe, Prada-store-green-circa-1995-colored tomatoes I’ve ever seen. We had 45 of them, all from the Alemany Farmer’s Market:

green tomatoes and clean jam jars


One batch of Green Tomato Pickles requires the following ingredients:

1 gallon of green tomatoes (sliced thick)

6 large onions (sliced thin)

bell peppers (colors are nice; sliced semi-thick)

1/2 cup salt

5 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp celery seed

2 tsp mustard

4 cups apple cider vinegar

Hard goods: 10 mason jars with bands and new lids

In a large stock pot combine the sliced tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and salt, then cover everything with ice (lots of it) and let sit for at least 3 hours…When 3 hours have passed and the ice is mostly melted, drain all of the liquid from the pot, and add the spices, cider vinegar, and sugar (if you’re like me, you’ll do so in a way that looks sort of pretty):

a look inside the pot...spices are in

spiced, not stirred

Bring the cider vinegar to a boil, reduce the heat, and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently until the tomatoes are soft and completely submerged in the pickling juice. Don’t fret if it looks like you don’t have enough cider at first––the tomatoes and onions give off lots of liquid when they cook, and all will combine nicely in no time, trust me. You’ll know it’s ready when the tomatoes and onions are soft, but not mushy, and everything has turned a more golden shade of green (from the tumeric).

Now, the jarring. The most labor-intensive part of the process, I think. You will need 10 mason jars, and 10 new lids and bands, too (NOTE: jars and bands can be re-used, but you’ll need new lids to properly seal the jars). The lids and jars must be hot, so submerge them in simmering water on your stovetop, or, if you’re clever like Mrs. B, run the jars in the dishwasher to heat them up, and leave the lids in a smaller saucepan to simmer on the stove (maybe not energy-efficient, but time-and-space-efficient). You’ll also need a wide circumference funnel, a ladle, tongs, a kitchen towel and a butter knife.



Using the funnel to help, fill the hot jar with tomatoes and their juices. Next, run the butter knife along the inside of of the jar to help remove air bubbles that might be trapped inside. Wipe the rim of the jar clean and dry, and using the tongs, place a hot lid on top, then seal it with a twist-on band. In 15-20 minutes you should hear the jars POP, which means they’re sealed. Enjoy your green tomato pickles anytime between immediately and one year from the day.

jarred and joyful

dressed and ready

P.S. If you decorate your pickle jars––frankly, my favorite part of the process, and a great way to reuse scrap fabric and ribbon––they make great hostess and holiday gifts.


Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, Gift Ideas, On the Cheap

A Fireplace Fix

From DW:

This is one of the best examples of “rigging” I have seen in some time. Good friends of mine moved into a fantastic new apartment recently, but as with most Brooklyn rentals, a few details were a little janky.  Such as: The weird 70’s fireplace with faux stonework, which was doing nothing for Scott and Nina’s minimal mid-century aesthetic:

the fireplace beforehand


And so, Scott came up with a clever DIY Rig. At Pearl Paint he bought sheets of foamcore, which he then cut to fit the fireplace’s dimensions. Next, he covered the foamcore with faux tin-ceiling wallpaper, in white, and then adhered the new façade to the fireplace with poster putty. Voila:

the fireplace after a good rig


p.s. You can do this, too. No problem!

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Filed under Do It Yourself, On the Cheap, Raw Materials, Reimagining