Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Hey, it's zucchini time again!  It's always feast or famine in the zucchini patch around here.  I typically plant more than I need, because about half of the time I will wind up with a few plants that just refuse to produce, so having some redundancy is necessary.  (Take that, everyone who has commented, "A family of two only needs one zucchini plant.")

This year, I have nine plants, and about four of them are in full production, which is plenty. So I have a recipe that will hide some of that zucchini, plus a lesson in the analysis about why it is so important to grow/make your own.


3 cups stock
1 1/2 cups rice (I used cheap white rice, but it would be better with brown.)
1 package hot dogs, sliced  (Do yourself a favor and get the kosher kind, for quality reasons.)
1 medium zucchini, shredded
2 large carrots or about 6 smaller ones, cut into small cubes
1/2 t. dried marjoram
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. turmeric (adds flavor and gives it that nice yellow color)

Place rice, stock, marjoram, oregano, and carrots in saute pan and cook over medium heat until the rice and carrots start to soften.  Add sliced hot dogs, zucchini, and turmeric, and continue cooking until rice is cooked through, carrots are soft, and hot dogs are heated through.  This takes about 25-30 minutes total.

Makes about 5 servings.

The Analysis

Fast:  This is definitely one of those thrown-together-from-the fridge meals.  I made this at 9 p.m. last night with what I had on hand.

Cheap:  Here's your takeaway:  sustainable living makes this super-cheap.  I made my own stock from freezer scraps (ham, chicken, and beef bones, plus onion trimmings), so that was free.  Zucchini, carrots, marjoram, and oregano are already accounted for in the gardening budget, so they are essentially free too.  That leaves some inexpensive rice, a package of expensive kosher hot dogs, and a small amount of turmeric.  All told, this recipe probably came in under $7 for me, and most of that was hot dog costs.  You could substitute any cooked meat you had in the fridge, like pre-cooked sausage or leftover roast chicken, although you will want to add some salt if you use a salt-free meat.

If I had to buy these ingredients, I probably wouldn't make this recipe.  Organic stock is around $4 a quart, and organic zucchini is $2.99 a pound around here.  Let's say that buying the additional ingredients would add another $7 to the cost.  This recipe is pretty yummy, and it is still a pretty good deal to get five servings for $14, but it isn't the huge benefit to the budget that it is when you are making so many of your own ingredients on the cheap.

Good:  The homemade stock and fresh veggies really added a lot of flavor to the dish.  Since I do have so many of these ingredients on hand for virtually free, I will continue to make this yummy dish.
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  1. I hate to sound like a dummy here, but could you explain the process for making stock from the 'scraps' you mentioned? I'm guessing from what you said that you keep such scraps in the freezer for this purpose?

    1. Darla:

      Check out this post: http://fastcheapandgood.blogspot.com/2010/04/ham-stock.html

      Briefly, I keep a "stock bucket" in the freezer that collects meat bones (and chicken gizzards, etc), pieces of onion, and things like that. When I have a full bucket or two, I put it in a stock pot full of water and simmer for anywhere from 2 hours to 4. Then I either can it or freeze it.

      Good luck!