There’s an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show
(that I am not old enough to remember) called “the Gunslinger”, a parody of the great Western noir film High Noon
. In it, Sally serves Rob a perfect Southern meal:
Sally: “Here’s your favorite — fried chicken.”
Rob: “Oh boy, and hominy grits!”
Sally: “Oh, I don’t know, about forty or fifty…”
Laugh, you miserable Madison Avenue Yankees, but grits is what we got here to live on. At least during the SNAP Challenge. Or what I’ve got anyway.
My second full day of the SNAP Challenge began with a bowl of steaming hominy made in the microwave. Hominy is made from white corn that’s been soaked in an alkaline solution and then sold by Wal-Mart. The reason that they are such a staple of the Southern diet is that they are cheap, plentiful and filling. Especially when they are mixed with cheddar cheese or shrimp and sherry like Emeril does it.
Of course the staple form of grits comes sans cheese, shrimp or sherry. It comes with water, salt and butter. Unless you are on a SNAP budget and then it’s margarine, which is basically a yellow glob of vegetable fat. But it melts quickly and makes a beautiful yellow lake of oil on top of the white mound of bubbling corn meal. And it’s cheap. My breakfast only cost about $.15 and it lasted (sort of) until 2 PM. Let me warn you though: putting grits in your mouth before letting them cool off for at least three hours is hazardous to your tongue.
Of course I didn’t eat during the lunch meeting with Upstate politicos, who dug into a beautiful salad, loaded with green vegetables, antioxidants and vitamins. I sipped water. But I did hungrily devour my two peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches ($.35 each) in the car afterwards, which carried me through until supper time at 7PM.
That’s when the Gwaltney Chicken Hot Dogs (With Pork and Beef Added) were served with the store brand macaroni and cheese mix. Why they are called Chicken Hot Dogs when they are made with Pork and Beef is a mystery to me, but they are only $.11 each, so who cares if the provenance is a bit shady? Besides I was boiling them anyway, since the grill has been put up for the season. I’ll say one thing: these are definitely not your Rabbi’s Kosher Beef Hot Dog. They are, however, nicely hot dog shaped, which is a plus. They taste like the parts of the chicken, hog and cow and that you really shouldn’t eat. Especially without mustard. Which I couldn’t afford on my SNAP budget.
It was the macaroni and “cheese” that was the best part of the meal. Made with my trusty Blue Bonnet and water (no milk, after all), it formed an interesting orange-tinted paste that coated the pasta adequately and almost convinced me that it was good old fashioned Kraft Mac and Cheese.
I only spent $.89 on supper. Today’s total food budget: $1.74. Not counting the Prilosec.
I’m up by about $3 so far. And that means that Wednesday, I can actually have something green and leafy. I may survive this week after all. My blood pressure will be through the roof and I will require Lipitor by IV, but I will survive. Just don’t tell my insurance company.