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March 14th, 2012 at 09:59 pm

We are still planning the Argentina trip in September with 3 other couples - including lawyer friend and his partner. The eight of us are having a potluck at lawyer friend's house on Friday to talk and plan.

The most Argentinian dish that I know of is matambre - stuffed rolled flank steak. Tonight I butterflied the flank steak, pounded it thin, and am marinating it with red wine vinegar and garlic. I've also cooked a couple of sausages (hard boiled egg is classic, but the host is allergic, so sausage will sub for egg), and steamed long strips of carrot.

Tomorrow I layer sausage, carrot, red onion, minced garlic, and spinach onto the flank steak, tightly jelly roll it, tie up the roll with string and roast it for an hour. Thinking of making some chimichurri sauce while it roasts.

Friday I bring it to work and thence to the party.

Friday will be nice, these last few weeks have been h-e-double toothpicks. Must be going 'round.

pulled the trigger

December 8th, 2011 at 09:03 pm

I've just started a Drp - Target, aka Tarzhay, stock ticker TGT.I had an interest, and since I have two other stocks with the same transfer agent, it was now a cinch to start it up directly from the transfer agent. Much, much easier and cheaper than using Temper of the Times. The only thing about this Drp is the $5 fee - I'll have save up and put in $500/ a pop to keep the fee at 1%. That's the thing that gets me with Sharebuilder - $4/trade seems like a good deal, but not if you are trading a few shares.

Made a wild Christmas candy bark recipe - base of chocolate, layer of crispy bits of bacon, chopped nuts (the original recipe called for peanuts, but I substituted walnuts and pecans), topped with caramel and on top of that, a little bit of salt. Tasty, but if you have bridge work, dangerous.

We are going with some friends to Korean barbeque and to them, for the Christmas season, goes the candy bark.

cheesemaking part 2

May 5th, 2011 at 08:13 pm

So part 1 was yogurt, which was pretty easy once you figure out how to get the right temperature to hold the milk and yogurt culture.

Part 2 - I've expanded to include queso blanca, a white cheese made with milk and vinegar. Easiest recipe ever! I got the milk for $1.89/half gallon + a few pennies of apple cider vinegar and it made at least 1/2 lb of cheese.

Queso blanca

1/2 gallon of whole pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) milk
2 tbsp vinegar. I followed the recipe and used apple cider vinegar, so I don't know how well other vinegars work.

Heat milk in a saucepan to 185 - 195F. Direct heat, right on the burner. Stir often so the bottom doesn't scorch.

Take milk off heat. Add vinegar a bit at a time until milk curdles - forms a white precipitate/curd and a slightly yellowish whey. I halved the recipe I referred to (1 gallon milk/ 1/4 c vinegar), which worked. The recipe also stated that if it doesn't curdle, you can add a bit more vinegar.

I let it cool for about 20 minutes - not sure whether curds increase as you leave it, but I figured that it wouldn't hurt much.

Pour curds and whey into jelly bag, let the whey drain off. Leave the curds in the bag for a couple of hours to firm up the cheese. Can twist the jelly bag to really get the whey out. This cheese needs a bit of salt.

So far, the cheese spreads okay on bread and crackers, great crumbled into a salad, and heats up very well - I'll bet it will be great as a ricotta substitute...like in a lasagna.

homemade yogurt

April 19th, 2011 at 09:28 pm

Various bloggers' forays into homemade items encouraged me to tell you about my foray into a homemade item: yogurt! Specifically, I love the plain Greek style yogurt - plain because you can always add honey, fruit or jam but you can't take the flavor away if you want a lassi, dip or marinade. At its loss leader cheapest, I used to buy Greek yogurt 24 oz for $3.99. With a little bit of equipment, my latest batches have come from a gallon of free milk along with 1 $0.99 container of Greek yogurt. This is what I do:

1. Measure out 1 2/3 c of whole milk, put into saucepan.
2. Heat the milk to 180C. I measure it with a clean probe thermometer. If you don't have one, if its boiling, its heated.
3. Let cool to 116C. This is where you really need the thermometer - I've failed if its above 120C.
4. Pour warm milk into a clean food thermos.
5. Stir into the milk, one tablespoon or so of Greek yogurt. That $0.99 yogurt can inoculate at least six batches.
6. Seal, and leave the food thermos alone for at least overnight. I've left it alone for a full day without an issue.
7. Open the thermos - it should be coagulated like yogurt.

Now this yogurt is pretty loose and runny. Its not bad, but its not the Greek yogurt that I know and love. To get that, I have to strain it, and I do that using a jelly bag.

8. Set up the jelly bag. Since you're straining out the liquid and keeping the solid, the yogurt pulls away from the bag a whole lot easier if the seam side of the bag is out, smooth side is in.
9. Pour the yogurt into the bag and strain it for at least 2 hrs. You know you have a good batch if the liquid is clear, a weak batch if the liquid looks like milk.
10. Invert the bag and enjoy.

I often strain the yogurt for much longer, until it gets to be a cream cheese, and the cream cheese version is smashing also.

jelly bag and rant

December 12th, 2010 at 09:25 pm

First the jelly bag with a tripod to hang over the sink. (I was jelly bag-less so I spent 12$ at the hardware store.) I was given a quart of apple butter, homemade by lawyer friend. It was delicious but runny. The solution is: the jelly bag. Pour the quart of apple butter into the jelly bag and wait for 1-2 hours as the liquid drained into the sink. A quart of runny apple butter turned into about a half pint of perfect apple butter.

It got me thinking about my second project. Making yogurt turned into a bit of a bust two weeks ago, but I still have an urge for a dairy project, so how about yogurt cheese, made with supermarket yogurt? I didn't have the butter muslin called for (a finer mesh more-clothy cheesecloth), but I did have the jelly bag. Turned out perfectly, and dead easy, so easy that it really doesn't call for a recipe. Dump supermarket yogurt into a jelly bag, let drip for 12-24 hours. Press a little - I twisted the bag to create a more compact 'cheese'. Its the consistency of cream cheese. I made eight little yogurt balls and rolled them in dried mint and a bit of kosher salt.

Now for the rant. Its been awhile for this one, but today it was just horrible. Our usual Sunday coffeeshop closed a couple of weeks ago due to fire damage next door so we went to a different one. We set down our wrapped newspapers to get coffee and discovered people reading 'em when we got back. I'm happy that people still want to read paper newspapers, yay, but dammit, if you are too damn cheap to buy your newspaper, you ask "may I?" and accept a no if we are not done. We share when we are done. Done means unwrapped from the baggie, paper in sections in a stack on the table. It costs some to get the paper, we buy it so we get first dibs.

Nuts, man.

all quiet

December 2nd, 2010 at 09:47 pm

Been about a week since I last posted. Mostly because not much has been happening. Waiting for my passport with the visa to come back from the visa service, and I plan to hit my medical center to get the shots I'll need for my February trip. Hep A, typhus shots, along with a blister pack of anti-malarials just in case. With that, the heavy duty buying is done, the rest is just collecting for the packing list.

Sister is a bit funny - she's asking me whether I'm reading what's on the book list. I think she means the professor who is leading the tour. If that's the case, probably not. There isn't going to be a formal test, at least not one that couldn't be passed by buying two slots on the tour. Smile

Sister sent a TON of turnips in her latest box. I was at a bit of loss on how to use them - DH hates turnips so too much hiding is out of the question - until I remembered how much I liked turnip pickles at the Indian/Middle Eastern restaurants. Turns out making them is very easy:

Turnip pickles
6-7 medium turnips
2-3 tiny beets
2 1/4 tsp kosher salt
red pepper flakes
1 c warm water
1 1/2 c white vinegar
clean glass jars

Peel turnips and beets, slice into 1/4 - 1/8 in slices. Put in large bowl, sprinkle red pepper flakes and salt over slices. Toss to get everything well mixed. Cover, let sit for 12-24 hrs.

Pack slices into the glass jars. You should have a bit of liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Add the warm water and vinegar to the bowl, mix well, pour the liquid over the slices in the jars.

Cover, let sit for at least 2 days. And this is what they look like...

snowpoclapyse, 2010

November 23rd, 2010 at 06:11 pm

Seattle is in the throes of its every other year snowstorm. Actually the snow occurred yesterday, but the ice occurred today. I was extremely lucky yesterday - it only took me 1.5 hrs to get to work, and 1.75 hrs to get home. Today - with the threat of the virtually-assured-nightmare ice bowl commute both ways, the fact that I got caught up with all my work yesterday, I had the PTO, I needed to get cracking on my part for the Thanksgiving festivities, - I refused to participate so I called in for a PTO day.

All the transit systems and the Seattle Dept of Transportation all tweet. Yesterday, while it wasn't a pleasure, at least I could figure out why we were stalled and could make a better decision. It does make for hundreds of text messages per day. I had the minutes saved for just this purpose.

And when I put on my Yaktraxs for the fourth year, I got the "great idea!" comment.

Got caught up on a number of fiscal fronts - my second CD matured Sunday so I called and put the proceeds into checking, and got my ING account to pull it in. 1.2% is unheard of for checking, but you have to maintain a large balance.

BECU solved a mystery. I got the temporary card, put a bit of money into savings. A few weeks later I wanted to put my this month's tip box squeezings into savings, but couldn't because it rejected my PIN. (I cancel and get everything back) Turns out that the first time you put the PIN in it will accept anything set of digits. Its at the end that it then gets down to the business of verifying your account. I'd rather be rejected early. I can take it. Anyway, got that mystery solved.

Also began making cranberry trifle try two. Try one was delicious, but I added a tad too much Cointreau. I'll fix that this time. All I've been doing is making three things: pound cake from a box mix, roasted cranberry sauce, cornstarch vanilla pudding. Cube the pound cake, layer it, add a bit of Cointreau, add a bit of cranberry sauce, a bit of warm pudding, more cubes of pound cake, Cointreau, pudding this time, cranberry sauce, etc. Keep layering until you run out of ingredients. Chill overnight, add whipped cream when you are about to serve.

quince marmalade

November 4th, 2010 at 08:45 pm

Last night I canned 11 1/2 pints of quince marmalade. I used this recipe:

Quince Marmalade

3 1/2 lb quinces (after de-peeling and coring you'll get about 3 lbs)
5 3/4 c granulated sugar
10 c water
1 whole lemon, thinly sliced.

Peel, quarter, and core quinces. This was the tough part - especially around the very woody core, those quinces cut like squash. Collect the peels and cores, wrap them in cheesecloth. The quinces will turn a bit brown, don't worry about it.

Combine all ingredients (including quince trimmings in the cheesecloth) into large stockpot.

Simmer under low/low medium heat for several hours. Quince will begin to turn rosy, the sugar syrup will turn red. Pierce a quince piece, when it softens, remove and discard the bag of cheesecloth.

Mash your quince and keep cooking until the quince jam is of the color you like and the mixture passes the sheet test. The longer you cook, the redder it gets. 5 hours was my limit, and turned my yellow quinces into a glorious red marmalade...

Process by boiling waterbath (quince ph range is about 3.8 - 4.0, plus the lemon adds a bit more acid). Fill jars with 1/4 inch headspace, put on lids and rings, process for 25 minutes.

food doings

September 5th, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Dj friend came by yesterday and bought 4 lbs @ $7/lb. 2 steak cuts which are each packaged paired, so either package will make a nice special meal, plus one pack of hamburger.

As we were talking, he reminded us that we told him about Lenny's ... and I have been complaining about produce prices, how nothing is under $1/lb. Okay, $.99/lb, but that's only for loss leader items. Not that I don't take advantage of them, but it would be nice to turn back the clock to, say, 2004 or so.

So we went back to Lenny's. $.99 for blueberries, .69$/lb for carrots, $.89/lb apples. Ah, back to where it takes a fair amount of weight to get to $5. I also picked up a bunch of swiss chard that looked good - $1.19/lb.

I sauteed the chard leaves in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. However, I found a great recipe for the chard stalks:

Creamed chard over pasta

1 bunch chard stalks - about 3/4 lb, or 2 cups
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 stick butter
1 cup heavy cream
dash nutmeg (my twist from the recipe I found)
pasta - I used penne
salt, pepper

Clean chard stalks if you haven't already, chop into 1/2 inch pieces.

Melt butter at low/med low heat, add garlic, saute for 1-2 min. (watch the butter, I burned my first batch. Frown )

Add chard, saute until chard is soft. (5-8 minutes)
Add the heavy cream to the chard, stir, keep at low heat and reduce to half the volume. Add nutmeg after about 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook pasta al dente if you haven't already.

Dress the pasta with the cream sauce, serve warm.

happy 4th

July 3rd, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Not much fiscal going on...
Tomatoes are finally relatively cheap - $1.28/lb, so I made a Jamie Oliver version of tomato salad with a couple of edits of my own...

2 lbs or so of good fresh tomatoes
kosher salt
2 garlic cloves
1 jalepeno, minced
olive oil
red wine/ balsamic vinegar

Chop your tomatoes roughly, put them in a colander, salt them and let them sit to express some juice. (15-30 minutes). In the meantime, make a dressing with 3:1 olive oil to vinegar.

Combine tomatoes, garlic, jalepeno. Dress with the oil and vinegar.

$49.33: 1018 pennies, 43 nickels, 185 dimes, 43 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 $5 bill, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents.

using the new fangled ATM, along with a recipe

April 28th, 2010 at 08:48 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $3 tomatoes, red onion
Found money - $0.42 (gym bench, bus stop, Safeway floor)

Saving log - $14.53 dividend
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0 Frown

I have got to stop mentioning days in a row of finding money. As soon as I do - nada. Yesterday was a total bust, but today dimes appeared to be raining from the heavens. $39.60: 865 pennies, 33 nickels, 144 dimes, 31 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 $5 bill, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents.

Deposited my tip box squeezings for the month today. $45. Normally I would have done it last week, but I was on vacation. I used the newfangled put-your-money -directly-into-ATM, which worked well, except for the fact that it went directly into my checking account rather than my savings account. It meant that using the ATM was a two step process: 1 - ATM, 2 - Online to transfer tip box deposit into savings. Kind of defeats my purpose, but strengthens the bank's purpose. These days, no one makes money on a saver, least of all the saver.

DH bought 5 lbs of strawberries a couple of days ago, and we clearly were not going to eat them fast enough. Here's my recipe to use 'em quick!

Strawberry Rhubarb Orange Compote

3 stalks rhubarb, sliced in 1/2 pieces
1 large orange, peeled, sectioned, sliced, zested
ripe strawberries
granulated sugar - maybe 1/3 c, but to taste

Put rhubarb bits and orange sections into a saucepan, add sugar. (Reserve the zest.)

Turn heat to low and simmer, allowing the rhubarb and orange to release the juice necessary. Stir occasionally - make sure the sugar does not burn.

Clean strawberries. Reserve the nice looking strawberries for later - Use the ones closest to the edge first, trimming bruises, etc. Chop and add these strawberries to the rhubarb in the saucepan. These are sacrificial - they will dissolve and form more sauce. Cook until everything is softened, but the rhubarb still keeps its shape.

Add the orange zest. Cut heat to very low - just keep the sauce warm. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.

Clean and slice any nice looking strawberries. Fold these gently into the sauce to give you strawberry pieces.

Serve over: dessert cup, short cake, angel food cake, scone, pound cake, plain yogurt ... if it turns out thick and jammy, toast. If it turns out a bit less than candy sweet, its fine as a side along with ham.

pumpkin turnovers

November 24th, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $5 baking ingredients
Found money - $0.10 (beauty bark in the park)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.07 (Safeway floor & parking lot)

Still am finding money around - between July 14 and today I've found $9.58 - as 238 pennies, 9 nickels, 45 dimes, 9 quarters.

Its Thanksgiving, so I'm going to have a bit of fun and post the recipe for the turnovers I made last night for Thanksgiving. I discovered tonight that they are delicious microwaved.

Pumpkin, raisin, ginger, cumin turnovers

1 24 oz can pumpkin
1 c golden raisins
2/3 c candied ginger
1/4 c sugar from candied ginger (otherwise 1/4 c granulated sugar)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp cumin (optional)
dash of nutmeg
dash of salt

1 package phyllo dough
melted butter
granulated sugar

Chop ginger if ginger is in large pieces. Combine all filling ingredients. Stir to mix, taste and correct for seasoning. Chill filling overnight. If phyllo dough is frozen, place in refrigerator to thaw overnight also.

Next day, preheat oven to 375F. Melt butter, strain - you want clarified butter. Pull out filling. Put a small dish of granulated sugar close. Wet a towel to keep phyllo moist and prevent cracking. YMMV, but these are the steps that worked well for me:

Pull off one sheet phyllo, brush sides with butter, brush center with butter.
Pull off second sheet phyllo, set on top first sheet.
Cover rest of phyllo.
Brush second sheet phyllo.
Cut buttered phyllo sheets into thirds lengthwise (three long, thin strips).
(each strip) Spoon filling on one end.
(each strip) Fold into 1st triangle
(each strip) Brush butter, sprinkle granulated sugar along rest of length of phyllo.
(each strip) Continue to fold length of phyllo into triangle - think flag.

Repeat - I ran out of phyllo before I ran out of filling.

Set phyllo triangles on baking sheet. I used parchment paper at bottom. Brush triangles with butter, sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake 20-30 minutes - or until phyllo is golden brown - at 375F.

Optional: sprinkle with powdered sugar.

carrot and potato gratin

November 22nd, 2009 at 09:19 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $12 lunch + $7 relish tray
Found money - $0.28 (pennies on road and sidewalk, quarter by the basket stand in Value Village)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $19 kitchen utensils
Found money - $0.27 (pennies and dimes on road and sidewalk)

Yesterday I got mailed a ton of carrots (red, purple, and orange) and parsnips grown by sister at the farmette, so here's what I did with some of them:

Carrot and Parsnip Gratin

1 lb parsnips
1 lb carrots
1 1/2 c shredded parmesan (lots of hard cheeses work well here)
1/2 c bread crumbs
3/8 c butter, cold
3 tbsp flour
2 c milk (since its being cooked and not baked - I just used milk made from milk powder and water)
1/2 c evaporated milk (can substitute more milk)
2 eggs
1 tbsp dried parsely

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly butter a large, shallow baking pan.

Peel, trim, and slice carrots and parsnips - the mandoline makes quick work of slicing. Toss carrots and parsnips with 1 tbsp of flour, a 1/2 c of cheese, parsely. Pour into baking pan.

Beat two eggs in a bowl. Add evaporated milk, 2-3 tbsp of cheese, beat until well mixed. Set bowl aside.

Melt butter in saucepan over med heat, add 2 tbsp flour. Maintain medium heat and wisk until well incorporated. Add milk, wisk continuously until thick. Take off heat, add nutmeg to taste, and mix well.

Add warm milk to eggs - remember to add milk in a thin stream and beat as you add to warm the eggs and prevent the eggs from scrambling. When milk is all in, pour the custard mixture over the carrots and parsnips. Shake the pan to get the mix well incorporated into the carrots and parsnips.

Mix the rest of parmesan with the bread crumbs, sprinkle over the top of carrots and parsnips.

Bake at 375F for 50-60 minutes.

Still have way more carrots and parsnips...sigh.

2 1/2 meat recipes

November 7th, 2009 at 08:45 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 breakfast + $30 for 2 bottles wine
Found money - $0.21 (sidewalks, road, stair step)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 breakfast + $17 groceries + $4.50 cat toy
Found money - $0

So we are unburnt. We've had several nights of rain, thunderstorms, and hail. I was at a potluck last night where several people collected and put hail in the freezer. Not quite sure what purpose saving hail in the freezer serves, but to each his own.

I didn't realize that roasting beef bones would cause such a stir! We got the beef soup bones - mostly joints, with meat and cartilage attached - as part of our 40 lbs of beef. The only part that needs pre-planning was to ask that the bones get chopped into 3 inch pieces. 3 inches is critical for marrow, because if you think of a bone as deviously shaped straw, 3 inches is about the length you can comfortably fish out the marrow from the bone using a knife.

Roasting bones is dead easy. Pull out large heavy metal pan that's a couple of inches deep (need a place for the beef suet to go and it shouldn't be the bottom of the stove), set unfrozen bones on pan, set oven to 350F, no oil, no cover. Marrow is done quickly, when the center pulls away from the bone. Pull it out and spread it on toast. So much for the 1/2 recipe.

But we're not done, I put the marrowless bones and meat back in the oven and keep roasting for 2.5-3 hours. Bone and meat should be deep brown. Pour off the suet (beef fat). If you are into authentic Christmas mincemeat or feeding winter birds, suet's your thing. Put the roasted bones and meat into a pot, add water to barely cover and set on a low heat. Water should simmer lightly for a couple hours more. Strain the solids from the liquid - pick out and retain the meat. Chill the liquid overnight, and scrape off the rest of suet from the top. You should have a brown jelly - the beef stock - and if you made it right its pot roast in a bowl.

If you liked that, perhaps you all will appreciate what I did with the flank steak. Flank steak (cow abs) is a tricky cut - its either best as london broil or fajita (quick sear), or its a long slow braise. I took a first stab at making matahambre - butterflied, stuffed, rolled.

Matahambre (hunger killer)

2 lbs flank steak
4 whole raw carrots, quartered
1 c raw spinach
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 hard boiled eggs, whole and peeled
salt, pepper, water

Butterfly the flank steak, meaning cut the steak along its width to within 3/4 of an inch off the side, forming a hinge. (Hinge should be along the grain of the meat). Open and flatten steak like the pages of a book. Spread plastic wrap over the top of the steak, take a mallet and whack it thin.

You now have a wide, flat piece of meat with the grain going up and down. Salt and pepper the meat on both sides, spread the garlic all along the meat. Spread the spinach throughout. Align the carrots up and down, with the grain), set in three piles. Place hard boiled eggs on top of the carrots.

Tightly roll the flank steak and fillings - and by tight, think sleeping bag into tube tight. When you have your tube, truss it secure with string.

Place flank steak tube in pan, add water to half way up the tube (it sounds like a lot, but I didn't add enough water, so I believe it) Braise the tube, covered, for 2.5 hrs, turning the tube once.

Slice your hunger killer like a jelly roll.

Mine was messy - didn't quite roll it tightly enough - but delicious.

lima beans with bacon and garlic

October 8th, 2009 at 09:26 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $.45 apple
Found money - $0.36 (quarter by the parking meter, dime on sidewalk, penny in lobby)

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $.03 (sidewalks)

Duck 4 beef will occur Saturday Oct 17.

Got a lot of fresh lima bean pods from sister, along with beets, carrots, potatoes, and a few peppers. I shucked the limas out of the pods, and did this with them:

Lima beans with bacon and garlic

3 c shelled fresh lima beans
3 thick strips bacon
4 garlic cloves, chopped
water, salt

Boil limas in salted water for about 20 minutes. Drain.
Fry the bacon - I like it crispy. Remove bacon from pan, set on paper towel to drain.
Remove all but 2 tbsp bacon fat from pan. Saute garlic in bacon fat for a couple of minutes. Add back the limas to the bacon fat and garlic to heat the limas through. Stir, deglaze the pan - add a bit of water if necessary.
Crumble the bacon over the limas and serve.

beef fest!

September 20th, 2009 at 05:32 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.99 bagel, coffee + $.92 apple
Found money - $.01 (sidewalk) + $0.13 (bus stop) $0.02 (2 different parking lots)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $8 Thai herbs and bamboo skewers
Found money - $0

Picked up our beef share yesterday afternoon at the drop site, a parking lot off of Lake City (sounds so illicit!). It was a bit more complicated than grab our bags and go - we had three other players, so it was sort the frozen cuts in the bed of a pickup truck, first divy up what cuts there are a lot of, then horse trade for the unique cuts, then weigh our shares just to get the ballpark. Our share was a couple of pounds shy of 40, so if I wanted to make a stink, I could, but we got a nice mix of stuff, and very tradeable for part 2.

The farmers, based out of Yakima, who were selling us the beef also came with a bit extra - we got a couple of pounds of extra summer sausage which is fresh and delicious, and a couple of pounds of peppers and tomatoes compliments of a couple of the neighboring farms.

Our share all fit in the freezer on top of our refrigerator. I did clean out and eat a bit of the old stuff we had there already to prepare.

After the beef share was divided, all of us decided to have "beef-fest" at lawyer friend's house and make a beef or beef-inspired dish. We thawed out one package of tenderloin and made Thai beef salad. We used what we had for the salad fixings, so instead of a bed of lettuce, which is the "official" recipe, we made a bed of sliced tomatoes, added some thinly sliced red onion, added thai basil, mint, cilantro. DH sliced and skewered the tenderloin, grilled it on site, we laid the grilled skewers on the bed of tomatoes, and dressed the whole thing with lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, serrano pepper. Yum!

In the next couple of days, I'll inventory exactly what we got - cut, number of packages, pounds, so our duck deal can get off the ground. I think we will be aiming for a pound for pound deal.

At the beef fest last night, one of our dinner guests mentioned that she gets tuna and seafood every year, and is very willing to barter tuna for beef, also on a pound for pound deal. I'm becoming more and more like dad every year. He used to trade beef for pig and chicken etc, too.

food, exercise, cat

September 3rd, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $40 dinner for 2

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $3 peanuts
Found money - $0

Been a rough three days of eating. Tuesday I helped polish off a lot of angel food cake along with a lot of homemade blueberry plum whiskey compote.

Recipe is straightforward - 1 lb blueberries, 1 lb pitted ripe plums with skins on, 1 c sugar, cook about 15 minutes, add 2 tbsp whiskey, cook 5 min more, cool, store in refrigerator. It forms a sauce, thinner than a jam, although with a bit of pectin it should make for a smashing jam.

Wednesday I went to the baseball game and got logy with a beer, garlic fries, and a bag of peanuts. At least I could only finish 2/3 of the bag and I had to shell the peanuts besides. And tonight we had dinner, appetizers, and drinks with friends. DH bought the beers and fries at the stadium; I bought our dinners tonight.

I also got a bit of a shocker yesterday morning - my gym trainer quit, so it is time to finish off the rest of my time with another. I'm sad, of course, he was a great trainer, but my MO has been that I lose the most amount of weight within the first three months of training. Makes sense if your body gets used to specific exercise - and every trainer has their own favorites that they will try on you. In other words, from the tactical losing weight/gain muscle thing, this is the best thing that could have happened. So if you buy trainer time, three months and then done.

I get twinges in my knee when I climb stairs, and tried one legged squats - that knee felt very challenged.

V.I. is settling in still more - we only had her for five days and her coat has improved by leaps and bounds. She wasn't terrible to pet when we got her, but her coat was rough and dandered. Now, very soft and glossy even at the base of the tail. I don't think improved food would work that fast. I think its because her stress levels have gone down - being the only cat in a quiet environment, she has the time and the desire to clean herself properly.

mail tales

August 25th, 2009 at 09:12 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $22 2 baseball tickets
Found money - $0

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $20 chiropractor
Found money - $0.01 (Safeway floor)

Yesterday we got the sister's cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, carrots, hot banana peppers, string cheese. Apparently she packed it so tight (her strategy is to stuff the 10$ box) that the original box broke up - the postal service collected everything in a garbage bag, put it in a box, and taped the address from the old box.

Except for one destroyed, squishy cucumber, once everything got a quick rinse it was all right. Carrots (6 inchers - no doubt the ones we planted in June) got sliced lengthwise, laid out in a single layer, doused with a bit of olive oil and salt and roasted at 350F for 20 minutes.

The pickling cucumbers were a challenge - DH doesn't like pickles, and while I like them, I don't love them. I treated the pickling cukes like regular cukes - chopped them into 1/4 in pieces, added salt and let sit 1-2 hours to sweat them, then drain, combine with chopped red onion, chopped banana pepper, two cans of drained garbanzo beans, then dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley.

Its sister's birthday next week, so DH helped me mail off her gift. We tried to pack it properly - no need to add to the USPS's troubles.

Speaking of mail - the one side benefit of the recession is far less mail. No credit offers, few catalogs, only or two neighborhood flyers. For a week or two early this month, it was old times with tons of glossy campaign mail. Now? Nothing yesterday, 2 pieces for DH. I still get most of my stock receipts by mail - while I'm green, I must be light green. I like the idea of not having to remember my password to get my monthly or quarterly info.

passed on favor and a lassi

June 28th, 2009 at 08:53 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $1 donation + $27 groceries

Went back to some semblance of a routine and jogged that 3 miles. I did it in 48 minutes, but I didn't push myself particularly. The end of the jog puts me within a block of a PCC, the local large organic grocery chain (think Seattle version of Whole Foods), and from there I buy an organic apple.

Today I set my apple on the conveyor and the woman ahead of me said, "just an apple? Let me buy it for you." I was going to protest, but the woman asked, "you'd do the same for me, right? Just pass it on." I considered it for a milli-second and realized the universe was trying to do me a favor. "Sure," I said and thanked her.

Outside the PCC, a homeless guy was selling Real Change. I gave him the dollar that I would have used to buy the apple.

Passed it on.

I had a real hankering for a glass of lassi, and had a spare bit of fruit. This time it was a white nectarine. While a nectarine is not very Indian, the lassi was delicious.


2 tbsp plain yogurt (I had the Greek stuff)
1 sliced up fruit
1/4 tsp salt
dash pepper (optional, but peppering fruit is pretty Indian)
ice cold water

Combine fruit, yogurt, and salt. Mash fruit into yogurt with a fork or use a blender. As you stir, yogurt will get thinner.

Add ice cold water to the yogurt mixture until the mix is about a milk consistency. Taste and correct for salt - salt brightens the yogurt and fruit flavors.

Pour over ice and enjoy!

bet they didn't teach you this in the Boy Scouts

May 23rd, 2009 at 06:44 pm

Weird, but experimentally demonstrated to be possible.

One glass dog bowl + some water + wire stand + noon sun + wood (eg untreated deck) = fire.

freakishly easy bread

March 26th, 2009 at 08:29 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $0

Saving log - $ tip box
Spending log - $.58 bananas

A couple of days ago, I suggested to DH that he try to bake bread. (He's a margarine & slice of bread snack guy.)

The recipe we've wanted to try is the New York Times no-knead bread recipe. Actually there are several versions of them here and here and here. And if you want to see someone make it, here.

The reason why I asked DH to do it is that he really doesn't do that much cooking - stirfry, roasts w/potatoes, and carbonara. He's not a baker by any means, so if he could do it well the first time, there's no tricks and no tweaking necessary. The main reason, heh heh, is that we buy a fair amount of bread at the grocery store, so perhaps making our own might be a tad cheaper, and we avoid the extra ingredients, like BHA, BHT and whatnot. And the final reason is that BA needs a cooking project.

The loaf he made last night is nearly gone and it turned out spectacularly well. It even works with ancient, over the hill yeast from 2007. DH was a bit concerned before baking because the loaf didn't double in size. I figured if it was that bad, we'd have Passover matzos early! Big Grin

pork and sour cherries

February 28th, 2009 at 09:50 pm

For my 999th entry, another crock pot recipe

Pork and Sour Cherries

Pork shoulder (2 - 2.5 lbs)
1 cup dried sour cherries
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Dried parsley (optional)
Soy sauce (optional)
Water, olive oil

Brown the sides of the pork shoulder in a bit of olive oil. Remove the pork shoulder from pan and put it into the crock pot.

Saute the onions, bay leaves, paprika with more olive oil in the same pan that you did the pork - about 5 minutes. Add garlic - saute for 2 minutes more. Add all to the crock pot.

Deglaze the pan with just enough water to deglaze fully, about 1/4 cup of water. Add the water to the crock pot.

Add dried cherries, tomatoes (with water in can), cinnamon stick, pepper, dried parsley to crock pot. Add 2 dashes of soy sauce to crock pot for color.

Cook in crock pot for 4-5 hours on high, 8-9 hours on low. Pork should be tender (bone should be easy to remove) with a brown, rich, spicy sauce. Correct for salt.

Serve over egg noodles.

Recession food

January 12th, 2009 at 09:48 pm

OMG - I saw a TV ad for Hamburger Helper. Fresh one, not retro. And during prime time, not during the insomnia/informercial times. The 70s are back with noodles and cheese.

I made the Saturday "Dine In" crock pot recipe in the Seattle PI. At least I thought I did. I was going to go in and search for it online, but the web staff hadn't updated it. Of course the PI staff had more important things to do - like updating their resumes.

Anyway, I had to wing it. It was can central, but the results were very tasty.

Beef barley soup

2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 large carrot, sliced
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
olive oil
1 14 oz can diced tomato
1 14 oz can chicken stock
1 14 oz can beef stock
3/4 c barley
2 lb beef stew meat (rump roast works here also)
1/4 c soy sauce

Night before
Saute onion, garlic, bay leaf in olive oil to soften. Save and refrigerate.
Slice carrot. Refrigerate.
Cut stew meat or pot roast into 1 inch cubes. Refrigerate.

Morning of
Put all ingredients into crock pot. Cook on low for 10 hours, or if you are rushed for time, cook on high for 5-7 hours.

and that's where I was on Saturday

November 22nd, 2008 at 07:57 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $11 lunch

Saving log - $40 DRP
Spending log - $7 brunch + $65 groceries

At the grocery store. Shopped for my contributions to the Thanksgiving feast and to take advantage of the frozen corn, pea, and green bean sales. I also picked up one box each of chicken broth and stock. I also picked up some hard cheeses.

I didn't walk this today - I cleaned the kitchen. Clutterfree! It gets me that DH tends to be clueless about cleanup - or rather, he tends to be clueless about the follow-through. He'll wash, but he won't put away, or he'll leave it soaking in the sink. He is the anti-fly lady. I also got rid of the ancient condiments lining the baseboard behind the stove, and moved all the non-condimenty things back there. Condiments get nasty quick over the heat of the stove.

Then I tried the roasted cranberry sauce recipe from Saveur - it is fantastic, and only about 15 minutes of cooking, 1 hr of waiting around. (actually, I'm an inveterate tinkerer, so I've already added my own additions and deletions). I also tried a new sweet potato recipe which was also fantastic. The very opposite end of sweet potatoes with marshmallows, but it uses a lot of butter.

squash mushroom soup

November 9th, 2008 at 06:57 pm

Scored decent chanterelle mushrooms for $5.98/lb. DH hates mushrooms, so I have to hide them if I make a lot of this soup (I can't eat it alone)

Squash mushroom soup

1 butternut squash
1 yellow acorn squash
3/4 lb chanterelle mushroom, wiped of dirt w/paper towel
2 c chicken stock
1 onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs rosemary
olive oil/butter

Optional: whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut squashes in half, remove seeds, add a pat of butter or bit of olive oil. Roast squashes until soft. Let cool, then reserve squash flesh.

Chop mushrooms. Saute mushroom and onion in butter or olive oil until soft. Add garlic, rosemary, saute until soft. Add chicken stock and squash. Simmer until heated through, then take an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, add a tablespoon of whipping cream into the bowl.

Someday, when DH can tolerate mushrooms, I will reserve some of the sauteed mushroom mixture to add back after pureeing. A bit of heat is nice here, also. I love adding a bit of Japanese pepper (chili powder, sesame seed, and dried orange peel).

Squash seeds -
Clean the threads and squash bits away from the seeds. Soak seeds in a salt and water brine for 30 minutes, then drain seeds completely, spread seeds out on a pan, dry roast at 350F for 30 minutes.

grape leaves and routing numbers

September 17th, 2008 at 10:59 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $17 dim sum lunch + $9 groceries.

Just finishing making stuffed grape leaves for the work potluck tomorrow. The guest of honor is vegetarian, so it didn't seem right to make a meat-stuffed grape leaf. Rice stuffed grape leaves are a bit boring, so I went and got small amounts of various rices - red, purple, saffron, fragrant, regular, wild - along with a little bit of quinoa. Flavoring is onion, garlic, parsley, chopped apricots, salt and pepper. If it makes a decent pilaf, it will make a decent stuffed grape leaf. The final thing I do is to cook the filling, then roll the cooked filling into the grape leaves. Its a lot less nerve racking than stuffing with raw filling - you can just heat the grape leaves through and you don't have to worry about the filling getting done.

What is on my mind, still...beating a dead horse here...is WaMu. Will we soon have the Citigroup Tower? We already have a Wells Fargo Building, so maybe just the WF Tower. Of course we could baffle future descendants by keeping the nickname - what is the WaMu of which you speak? But corporate takeovers are a bit like war - if they take prisoners, they shackle them and change their name.

I'm also thinking about routing numbers. If my WaMu accounts are the antechambers to my saving, and WaMu gets taken over, then my accounts will change their routing numbers. Suddenly I have to keep an eye on my little savings empire.

fried green tomatoes

August 23rd, 2008 at 09:22 pm

Lots of August birthdays in my life:

Ordered sister's birthday gift for her birthday next Saturday and will pop her card in the mail on Sunday. I also ordered a little something for myself - a relatively dressy black trenchcoat/ windbreaker.

Potluck tonight for a lawyer friends' partner's birthday. I made fried green tomatoes because I still only have 1 red tomato. Early girl? I have boy-waiting-for -prom-date girl. But it is nice that I have all the ingredients for a potluck dish.

Fried green tomatoes

3-4 lg green tomatoes sliced 1/4 in or so
1.5 c flour
1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt and pepper (I like more salt)
milk (made it using dried milk powder)

canola oil

Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, milk into a heavy batter.

Heat 1/2 of oil in cast iron pan. Dip tomato slices in batter, shake off excess, fry each side until golden brown - about 3 min per side. Drain on paper towels.

Best if warm, but I'm going to check if they microwave all right.

creamy crockpot beans

June 15th, 2008 at 06:18 pm

Peri peri shrimp yesterday, creamy crockpot beans today. I'm confused - high end one day, low end the next.Smile

No real recipe here - just a willingness to clean out the counters and use what was in the pantry.

First off, the beans were ones that sister sent me from her garden at the farmette. So while they were dried - they were freshly dried if that makes any sense.

Started soaking the beans at 5pm Saturday. Then at 11pm I drained them and put them in my crockpot with 2 chopped onions, what was left of the peri peri sauce (chile, olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, parsely, garlic pureed into a smooth paste), excess chopped parsely and cilantro.

Set the crockpot to low at 11:30pm. (Gutsy to sleep with an 80s era crockpot turned on, I know, I know.)

I woke up at 9am to a wonderful smell, but I turned it off because I was going to be out and about. When I came back, I added to the crockpot a jar of simmer sauce from Trader Joe's, and a small can of tomato paste, then cranked the crockpot up again.

They turned out creamy and delicious, a happy accident. We had them with rice, but it would be great by itself or with a tortilla. Hopefully they won't be too musical in my digestive tract tomorrow.Big Grin

Two frugal firestarter recipes

January 5th, 2008 at 03:51 pm

So we were eating breakfast at the Library Cafe this morning when the owner decided to crank up the woodburning stove. DH and I knew what would happen when the owner stuffed it with newspaper. Sure enough - smouldering smoke from the soy ink and it just didn't catch the first time. Or worse, the newspaper would burn just dandy, leaving the wood all nicely unburnt and dry.

We had that problem ourselves with our fireplace when our wood worker friend turned us on to his solution:

Firestarter Recipe 1

old style dixie cups - small, waxy paper kind. NO PLASTIC!
candle wax
saucepan you do not care about

Think back to your college days when you were making jello shots. Big Grin Set up your dixie cups on a tray. Fill dixie cups 1/3 - 1/2 way with sawdust.

Warm the used candle wax gently in the saucepan. When pourable, pour the wax into the dixie cups, filling to 1/2 to 2/3. Let cool.

Don't over fill; the dixie cups stack better if they are underfilled and the rim of the dixie cup is a feature here.

To use, stack the wood as usual. In between the spaces, shove the dixie cups rim side out. Light the rim. We've found that it will take 2, tops 3, dixie cups strategically placed to start a decent fire.

Now since we weren't woodworkers, a dependable sawdust supply was a problem. DH came up with this twist:

Firestarter Recipe 2:

old style dixie cups - small, waxy paper kind. NO PLASTIC!
dryer lint
candle wax
saucepan you do not care about

Just like recipe 1, only put a small bit of dryer lint in the dixie cups instead of the sawdust.

Wacky Pilaf

December 28th, 2007 at 10:19 pm

You can make a pilaf out of any cooked grain, not just rice. I love through the bulk bins of grains in the grocery store and picking up some. It does mean that a couple of months later I often have a bit of this and a bit of that, not enough to make a side by itself. Instead of buying more at that moment I collect the bits and make a wacky pilaf. This is one of my favorites that I made for Christmas.

Wacky Pilaf

1 minced onion
1 chopped carrot
2 cups quinoa
1/2 cup kasha (buckwheat groat)
1/2 cup wild rice
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
salt, pepper

Soak the quinoa for about 15 minutes in twice the amount of water (2 cups quinoa means 4 cups water). Swish the grain in the water a bit. This is to remove the grain's bitter, soapy tasting coating.

Boil the wild rice in a small saucepan until slightly underdone, about 20 minutes. Drain. Wild rice should be al dente chewy, not mushy.

Boil the kasha in a small saucepan until done, about 2-3 minutes. Kasha cooks very quickly - when done, drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, drain again.

Drain the soaked, raw quinoa. Its a small grain, you will need a fine mesh colander.

Saute the onion and carrot in the butter or olive oil over medium heat until carrot is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wet quinoa to the onion and carrot, stir to mix, cover pan with lid, then turn down the heat to low and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Stir after 5 minutes to prevent sticking.

Add kasha and wild rice to the pan, stir to coat. If necessary, add a bit more oil. Quinoa is done when it turns translucent. Salt and pepper to taste, serve warm.

This pilaf microwaves very well. 1 minute and its perfect.

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