Sunday, June 2, 2013


This is one of my Poverty recipes -- one of the recipes I invented, more or less, as a poor graduate student, and have kept in the rotation because (a) I'm still perpetually broke and (2) I still like to eat it from time to time. It's a recipe that's useful when you're broke, toward the end of the month.

It's called sludge for a reason, so be warned!


  • An onion or two if you have two (you can use wild onions if it's summer & you're really broke)
  • Any sort of vegetables: celery, carrots, frozen peas, dried mushrooms, potatoes, scraps of lettuce or ends of turnips, whatever you happen to have left in the fridge (any of these can be left out if necessary)
  • Whatever dried grain you have on hand (I tend to use rice or barley, since these are the two I most reliably have on hand, but I have also used dried oats, and that works too).  How much depends on how many people you're feeding -- you want about half a cup of grain per person.
  • Some sort of oil -- olive oil or bacon grease are best, but any oil will do
  • Salt
  • pepper
  • a bay leaf if you have one

Chop up the onion/s and the vegetables if they're raw.  (If you're using potatoes, scrub them good and hold them until later.)  You don't have to cut them especially small -- about inch size pieces is fine.

Heat the oil (not too hot) and stir up all the cut vegetables in it. Cook a minute or so, until things start to smell good, and then add about two cups of water per cup of grain being used. So if you're using three cups of grain, add six cups of water.  Add salt, pepper, and the bay leaf if you have it. (Feel free to add other spices if you like, by the way!  This is the bare-bones impoverished version of the dish!)

Cook the vegetables for about 20 minutes.  Add another cup of water (we're up to seven cups now), and stir well.  Cut up the potatoes (don't peel them!), and stir them in.  Stir in the grain, cover, and cook until the grain is done.  I always stir several times while the grain is cooking, and add water if necessary during this process, as it sometimes is.

When we're done, the mix is very sludgy looking, but also very filling.  You can serve with bread if you have it.  If you've made a lot (I always made a lot) it keeps well and reheats well. 

If you have left-over scraps of chicken or left-over broth, you can add that for a little extra protein. 

Kids, for some reason, tend to like this a lot.

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