Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, April 22

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« Floriole finally open! Cheese Tasting @ Pastoral Tonight »

Feature Sun Apr 18 2010

We're in the Money (or the Discount Aisle)

It's that number at the end of a 1040 form that makes or breaks you: "This is the amount you overpaid." For some, both owing and receiving little back in tax refunds is a good thing, as it means that you've been able to enjoy your money to the fullest; however, a tax refund for the rest of us means significantly paying down debt or making reservations at expensive restaurants.

If you're a little down in the dumps because you had high hopes for your refund but TurboTax didn't deliver, we've got some recipes that will help you through this tough time. And if you're jubilant over your newfound cash and are looking for some classy ways to spend it, keep your braggy mouth shut and read (we've got some recipes for you too, hot pants).

If you're eating on the cheap and still want to retain your dignity, I recommend taking a look at the Grocery Bag section of Everyday Food, which gives you a handy, no-frills grocery list that will produce a week's worth of dinners that won't emphasize your poverty-induced sadness.

If you're looking for something higher-end, I would recommend taking you and yours out for a night on the town. But if you're looking for something high-end to make in the home, I think pork tenderloin with vanilla salt should set you back a few dollars.

A few other DT staffers have thrown in their own two cents on the matter:

So, I guess I'm in the "cheap recipe" camp. As I live in the heavily Latino section of Rogers Park, 25-cents-a-packet corn tortillas spring to mind. (El Milagro is the best.) Top that with a slice of Chihuahua cheese, toast it for a minute or two. This is listed under "pretty decent breakfast" in my imaginary recipe folder, but if you really want to splurge, you can add an egg scrambled with cilantro. Then, it goes under "fancy breakfast."

If you are inundated by a flood of tax return and must get rid of money ASAP, may I suggest The Complete Fruit Cookbook whose paperback version is selling for a whopping $7.5 million. (Shipping adds a hefty $3.99.) Or, you can order the same paperback for $1.25. Huh?

Around our house, we limit our red meat intake to a couple of meals a month and regularly try to work vegetarian options into the dinner rotation, for the sake of our budget as much as our health. Beef Pinwheels with Arugula Salad, an oldie but a goodie from Epicurious, is a lovely and decadent meat-on meat-on-cheese main that's well worth the splurge, both in terms of calories and cash. Because the recipe has just five ingredients, you will notice the difference if you punk out with inferior flank steak, provolone or prosciutto. So don't. Get the good stuff, and raise a nice glass of Chianti to Uncle Sam while you're at it.


I owe a lot, so I'll be making this recipe. A lot...

Assuming that most folks have the salt, spices, oil, and a clove of garlic at home, this pot of beans can be made for about $5 (provided you leave out the hambone).

Cuban Black Beans
1 lb. dry black beans
8 c. water
2 lg. onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 lb. ham bone (optional)
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp. salt
Raw chopped onion
Soak beans in 4 cups of water overnight, after washing them thoroughly. Drain, cover w/ 8 cups of water and bring to a boil w/ hambone and bay leaves. Fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil over med/low heat until soft. When the beans are done (35-45 minutes), remove about a cupful and add to onions and garlic. Mash until you have a thick, even paste, then add back into the saucepan with the beans. Simmer low until you have a good thick pot of black beans.

Serve over rice with hot vinegar and raw chopped onions.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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