Sunday, February 28, 2010

Round Steak Two Ways for Two

I found some cube steak at the Roth’s ‘Buy 5 for $20’ sale. I watch what I buy; sometimes it’s only a savings of less than $.50 per item. But on things like steak, ground beef, and cube steak; I buy the heaviest, thus most expensive, meats. That can mean about 50% off or more.
I love to use cube steak for Swiss Steak. Scott doesn’t like the texture and prefers round steak. Okay, cube steak is tenderized round steak. He prefers regular round steak for Swiss Steak.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sausage Noodles and Cabbage

Selene asked what we were having for dinner that night.  "Sausage noodles and cabbage." 
She and Nate began to whisper back and forth.  "Um, Mom, how do you make noodles out of sausage?"
"Roll it out really thin."
"We're having pizza."
"Oh, come on, it's egg noodles with sausage and cabbage."
"Yeah, we're having pizza.  Think Dad would like some?"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chowder Head

Yum, that’s the only sound I make while eating Mo’s Clam Chowder. An institution on the Oregon Coast for over 60 years, Mo’s has the best chowder ever! Okay, Scott prefers the Chowder Bowl in Depoe Bay and Dad loves the recipe Gracie uses at the Sea Hag in Depoe Bay; each to their own.

Now, I had never tasted Mo’s chowder until the mid ‘70’s when I made a batch for a party. I found a recipe in a magazine that said it was the same used in the restaurant. It started with 10# of potatoes, peeled; yep, I had a blister from that one.

What I Keep in My Pantry

I have taken a page from our Moman sisters:  Stock the pantry for times of need.  We have had a year's worth of staples on hand but now just have about a month's worth on hand.

Alright, just this once, I will give my secret on how to stock the pantry, even on a tight budget. SHOP THE SALES! On the front page of the store sales flyer will be a few 'Loss Leaders', products that are priced ridiculously low just to get you into the store. If you can, buy more than one of these loss leaders. Put the extra in the pantry or freezer. Also, SHOP SEASONALLY1  Holiday time means sales on baking staples. Stock up. Also a good time to get a couple extra turkeys or hams for the freezer. Summer means sugar will be on sale. Also it is a great time to pick up fresh food direct from the farmer, at the Farmer's Market, or grow your own. You can freeze, can, or dry veggies and fruits at home for later use.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Does Scott Have In Common With Homer Simpson?

When it comes to pork products, Scott has much in common with Homer Simpson. One day Scott ran to the store for coffee creamer and came home with two family size packages of pork chops. He forgot the creamer.

Pot Pies

I remember eating frozen pot pies a couple of times as a teen. In our house, they were seen with the same ilk as TV Dinners. As newlyweds, I asked Scott what his favorite foods were so I could fix them, He listed Tuna Noodle Casserole, Beef Pot Pies, Grandma Pearl’s Fried Chicken and Biscuits, Steak, and that was about it. The list of foods he didn’t like was miles long!

Well, pot pies went on sale and I bought a few and cooked them up. For our 20 year old palates, used to too much salt and fat, they weren’t bad. So I added them to our meals about once a month. While I loved the tuna and chicken, Scott was a beef kind of guy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Less Sugar Cookies

I cannot remember the last time I made cookies. Really, since Scott developed Type II Diabetes, I have almost stopped baking.

I used to bake once a week. I made our bread and then, while the oven was hot; I made cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, etc. Then I stopped baking bread because I could get it for $1 for two grocery bags full at the H2O. And with using Splenda, yech! The products don’t rise and the aftertaste was horrid.

We know that brown sugar or molasses is taken up by the bloodstream slower than white sugar, but it is still sugar. I finally decided to try Stevia. I bought some packets at the Safeway and we like it on cereal and in coffee. I tried it today in the cookies.  The cookies are fluffy and no aftertaste.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hunting and Gathering

I have my list, checked it twice, and now to find out if I can keep to my budget. There are some good buys on fish at the Safeway. Roth’s has their 5 meats for $19.99; which includes Mo’s Clam Chowder, yummy. So off I go. I am Susan, the mighty hunter/gatherer on her mission to stalk for the pantry.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Frugal vs. Cheap

I have been trying to write a post on frugality and buying quality foods. I have deleted more words than I ever kept. I would begin a sentence then go off on a tangent that would branch out into more tangents until all I had was a mishmash of words going nowhere.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hamburger Gravy over Mashed Potatoes

One of the best dishes our school cafeterias put out was Hamburger Gravy over Mashed Potatoes. They served it with sauerkraut. Hey, it was still the ‘50’s/’60’s and people are differently then.

We were allowed to eat one ‘hot lunch’ a week. Otherwise, Mom made us cold lunches. At first she sent milk in a thermos but we liked buying our milk. I guess it made us feel more independent. Or maybe we were embarrassed to be one of the few who brought milk from home. I remember milk was $.03 a day.
My favorite ‘hot lunch’ was HGoMP. When we tried to get Mom to make it at home, she never got it right. She always made . Sometimes she would crumble a hamburger patty into the gravy.
So I took over and got it right through trial and error.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chicken and Rice

How many recipes are there for Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo)?  At least one per cook in the world!

I make serveral versions.  Some are spicey, some are homey, some are light, and all are yummy!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Incredible Edible Egg

Growing up; the only egg dishes I knew were hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny-side up. Mom started by heating bacon grease in a cast iron skillet. She then cracked the eggs into the hot grease. If more than one yolk broke, she just scrambled them all together. Since I didn’t like scrambled eggs, you can taste the nasty white, she would fix me a sunny-side up. I would pull the white off and give it to anyone who wanted it. Then dip my toast into the runny yolk.
Yes, I was a picky eater. Mom and Dad put up with it because until I was 11, I was underweight. I had spent most of my youth as a sickly child. At 11 I discovered food tasted good. And that was the beginning of my life long weight problem.

Just before Scott and I got married, I started collecting cookbooks. Cheese omelets became an obsession with me. I wouldn’t eat one but I was bound and determined to make the best cheese omelet ever. I read over the techniques and practiced on poor Scott. I imagine I sent his cholesterol sky high during that time.

Our favorite restaurant, way back when, was at the Myrtle Point Hotel. It was a little Chinese place. The owners were very nice and could cook up a storm. On their suggestion, one night I tried Char Shu Chow Dun. It was a Chinese omelet and I loved it! Barbeque pork, onions, and lots of vegetables cooked with eggs. I was eating eggs.
I began to make quiche. Again, yum, I was eating eggs.
Now I know why, by adding other ingredients you don’t really taste the yucky white. No, I still don’t like egg white.

A few years ago I was watching ‘The Barefoot Contessa’ when Ina fixed a frittata. Oh, a quiche without the crust. I tried it. Easy peasy. The taste and texture were far superior to quiche. We alternate between quiche, omelet, and frittata. We eat sunny-side up with pancakes and waffles. Scott likes ‘poached’ (in little cups coated with butter and steamed) with toast. We eat hard cooked in salads and Scott likes them for snacks.

By the way, if you want to know how to make the perfect hard cooked egg; just check out Julia Child and Company

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Making Jarred Food Taste Better

I keep a few prepared foods in my pantry for those days I just feel lazy or consider it to be a ‘Bad Day in Black Rock.’ Things like soups, chili, alfredo sauce, ramen noodles, refried beans, etc. Mostly we just eat the prepared foods as they come out of the can.

But we treat alfredo sauce differently. Ever since I learned making a real alfredo sauce is a snap, I rarely keep the jarred stuff on hand. But somehow a jar showed up, so I decided to use it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

$.99 Ribs and No Barbeque Sauce in Sight

I found beef ribs for $.99 a pound! So a bought a couple of racks. We’ll cut one rack in half for two meals. The other rack will be put to other uses.

One of the things that I don’t like about modern meat counters is the lack of bone-in meats. The bone and marrow give a lot of flavor to meat. The Victorians enjoyed eating ‘marrow bones’ (the long leg bones of bovine) so much they had silver long handled ‘marrow spoons’ as part of their silver sets. (The spoons look similar to ‘ice tea; spoons.)
I find I miss the boney flavor in a roast beef or in swiss steak. Thus the reason I bought the ribs. They give off the boney/marrowy flavor to roasts, stewed or braised meats. I feel that the best beef stock comes from using bones along with the meat.
I cut the ribs into individual ribs and freeze them on a cookie sheet. When they are frozen, about four hours, I drop them into gallon zip bags so I can pull them out as needed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Split Pea Soup with Lentils

Way, way back in time there was a young couple just starting out. They dropped by to see the husband’s Great-Grandpa John, who, as usual was extremely happy to have visitors. After a wonderful visit, where GG John shared his hobby of going to funerals, any funeral; he wanted to share his bounty with the young couple.

He brought out a box of foodstuffs to help the young couple build their pantry. Government issued surplus foods, non perishables. They young couple were reticent to take the food. GG John assured them, “They give out the same amount to everyone. I’m an old man without much of an appetite. Please let me share this with you.”
So they did.

Wow! That box contained 1 lb butter, 5lbs of process American cheese, 5lbs of flour, 5 lbs of sugar, a large can of peanut butter, another can of bologna, a bag of lentils, and I can’t remember the rest! For the next six months GG John continued to present us with a box, once a month. That is until he had to be moved to the rest home.

And folks that was a portion of what the Surplus Foods Program handed out to individuals and families who qualified for help. We know it now as the Food Stamp Program or here in Oregon as the Oregon Trail Card. OTC looks like a credit card and is less obtrusive than Food Stamps. At least now lower income people have the choice of fresh fruit and veggies; along with fresh meat.

From that first box I made a delicious Lentil Soup. Scott didn’t like the texture of the lentils at all. But he did like the split peas that showed up in a later box. I liked the lentils and the split peas, so I came up with the compromise: 1/3 lentil and 2/3 split peas. It was a hit.  I just buy two bags of split peas and one of lentils.  I mix them together in a Tupperware storage container, cover and store.

Mac 'n Cheeses

I know what you are thinking, just what the  world needs, another recipe for macaroni and cheese.  Please bear with me.
Growing up I loved the school's mac 'n cheese.  The process american cheese melted over, under and through the elbow macaroni.  If only Mom could do that.  Nope.  Dad liked his with Tillamook cheddar.  Enough said.
Oh, I did try a couple of times.  I snuck in some Velveeta.  Dad noticed.  "Why don't you eat the macaroni and cheese at school and let Mom make the mac 'n cheese at home."  Oh, I never thought Mom added enough cheese.  There was always too much macaroni for my taste.