Thursday, January 31, 2008

and these snacks are from trader joe's, which i already knew

if you find yourself flying out of a town with a trader joe's, you can buy this triumvirate of light and flavorful snacks for about five bucks.
if you're driving, add some nuts to the bill. and, of course, lots of water.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

tempeh is from indonesia. now i know.

following up on the post below...
i'm not sure where i thought it was from, but i would've guessed somewhere north or west of the island nation.
tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, with a flavor more complex than that of tofu, and a flavor i enjoy more. it also freezes well, maintaining its texture-- which is firmer and more crumbly than tofu. i used the white wave brand's soy flavor, which is 2.49 for an 8 oz pkg at open harvest.
learn more about tempeh:

broccoli 99c a bunch at ideal this week

and i'm glad i bought it. with what was in my freezer and on my shelf, i made a

dinner i could feed to vegans that same night.

i browned an onion in a tsp each olive oil and san-j thai peanut sauce. then i added one cubed brick of tempeh (more about tempeh above). when it took on a darker color, i added about a cup of ginger zinger juice (on sale at open harvest a while back) and brought to a boil. then added one chopped bunch of broccoli, returned to a simmer and left covered for five minutes. then added two cups cooked brown rice and a few healthy dashes of peanut sauce. Stirred to combine and left partially covered on the stove till ready to serve.

one thing to remember about broccoli. if you're going to serve it in a tossed dish or salad, make sure all the florets are small enough to be bite-sized.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

when slicing a small onion for browning...

i find this works well for me.
halve the onion, remove ends and peel. slice into each half as though you're going to quarter it, but don't sink the knife all the way to the cutting board. then slice as shown.
this gives more consistency in size-- and, thus, cooking time-- of finished onion.

one more picture of the pork loin

even a roast sized for two can make a lovely center- piece.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

a roast for which don rickles couldn't be in character

some quick tips about roasts.
use carrots, onions, celery-- or any vegetables you like or have on hand-- as a roast rack for small pieces of meat. (one bag of baby carrots usually does about right, by the way.)
brown the roast!
this is what makes it look right and edible later. i browned this roast in a skillet with the browning onions.

if you have a lot of containers...

check with your local pre- school or grade school to see if they take and use clean vegetable containers, or empty (again, clean) food cartons. the kids build stuff with them. or something.

meat for the week merits no dearth

i only went to cetak's for a couple of pork chops, but walked away with all this for 6.65.

from the sale selections, got two steak hamburger patties for 1.21 and a wee pork loin for the amazing price of 2.77.
from the regular good deals, one garlic brat for 1.50 and a huge smoked pork hock for 1.17.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

so many appellations of apples

but these were actually from north america. if you like apples, this is the

time of the year to buy them if you want the fruit grown on this continent. every season there are new varieties...
i hung one of these from a rafter in the ceiling and when i smashed it open, these savory cheese and apple snacks appeared.

slice apple and emmentaler swiss cheese, arrange on bread. sprinkle with sliced almonds and freshly ground pepper. bake in the toaster oven at 425 for 15min. serve immediately.

all kidding aside about the apples: i got them at hy-vee, and they were crisp and sweet and 1.79#.

Friday, January 25, 2008

the real top ramen is...

this brand:
sapporo ichiban.
you know packaged ramen is bad for you, full of fat and sodium. let's see here, one package has three servings. sure it does! that also means one package has a total of 12g of saturated fat, 60g of carbs, and 2061mg of sodium. (that would be 84% of your rda of sodium, by the way.)
but sometimes you want to boil up some dried ramen.
so, if you're going to do this to yourself, buy some that tastes worth it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

lambchop list, of grievances, mild

1. lamb rib chops on sale for 3.99# at hy-vee. regular price: 19.99#

2. remove lamb chops from package and look them over before marinating
3. feel bad about eating and cooking lamb, while it's in my hand, raw
4. lamb smells great on the grill
5. lamb tastes even better than it smells
6. looking for lamb
6a. since then
6b. every visit to every grocery
6c. not finding the same combination of freshness, cut, or quality for less than 12.99#
6d. blogger reformats this section and takes out the indents
7. while looking, find rosemary mint jelly on clearance; buy it, thinking, "that will be good on lamb rib chops which i will buy again someday" (see above)....
8. two lamb loin chops at super saver for 9.98#, less than six bucks total (also above)
9. jelly turns out to be awful and sour
10. lamb chops grilled, day after bought, with no dressing or marinade used (see further above)
11. lamb smells great on the grill
12. lamb tastes even better than it smells
13. looking for lamb...

vegan stuffing and mushrooms to go, y'all!

so i stemmed a pint and a half of baby bella mushrooms (didn't these used to be called crimini mushrooms? either way, on sale for a buck fifty a pint

at leon's) and placed the caps in a foil pie pan, shown here. the stems, along with the smaller or less than perfect mushrooms, got chopped up and tossed into a portable container with: one diced bell pepper, a cup of bread crumbs, one package of vegan jerky (also diced), a healthy sprinkling of vegan parmesan cheese, and half a small box of imagine's creamy portobello soup.
by the time i achieved my destination, this mixture had melded together more than shown here--the bread crumbs broke down nicely.

i stuffed the mushroom caps and sprinkled the top of the pan with more of the vegan parmesan, and baked at 400 until it smelled done, less than half an hour. Stuffed mushrooms are really best right out of the oven, so plan and serve accordingly.

Monday, January 14, 2008

easy bacon-wrapped scallops, grilled

i hadn't tried the scallops from midwest seafood before. when i go in there,

the steaks and fillets always catch my eye first; but i was guessing the scallops would be good.

i searched for "bacon-wrapped scallops" on google to get some ideas, and most recommended cooking the bacon for a few minutes before wrapping the mollusk, because the scallop cooks so much more rapidly-- and will be rubbery by the time the bacon is done. i decided to just go with a box of pre-cooked bacon that i'd bought on sale recently. eating pre-cooked bacon at breakfast doesn't seem like really eating bacon, but wrapped around seafood or melon, the uniformity and lack of crispness becomes practical...and still tastes great.

on cooking light's website, of all places, i found a recipe for a marinade of bourbon and maple syrup. i did use the green onion they suggested, but i substituted key lime juice for tamari, since after removing the bare scallops from the marinade, i was going to heat the liquid with some more olive oil, and then toss it with cooked pasta.
the noodles are from a small company, on sale at leon's this week. as with most flavored pastas, there's not much red pepper flavor to the noodle, but they are a nice warm color on the plate with seafood.

also, as a point of interest: i went to the liquor store next to midwest seafood to buy the bourbon, and they have a very large, seemingly happy macaw in a large, clean enclosure.

the scallops were fantastic, by the way. grilled medium rare, served with noodles and salad.

learn more about scallops and macaws:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

scrambled eggs and salad

sounds weird, but it makes a good brunch.
the salad is a bed of arugula, toasted pecans and steamed beets. blue cheese crumbles over the salad and the eggs, then dressing over salad.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

a broccoli and cauliflower sort of stuffing

when you can find the bags of already cut, already washed, already combined broccoli and cauliflower on sale (and these can show up for as little as a buck fifty a bag), pick them up-- if they look good through the plastic. you can't re-create the contents of the bag for the same amount of money when it's at a good price.

this is a sort of stuffing i made from such a bag...
i put a cup of stock and a tsp of chili pepper flakes in a coverable pot and brought to a boil, then added the broccoli and cauliflower florets and brought to a simmer. after a few minutes, i added two cups of bread crumbs, one cup of leftover brown rice, and a half cup of dried potato flakes, and stirred again. i stirred over low heat until the bread crumbs, potato and cauliflower combined; so that it was basically broccoli on a cloud.

served with pork chops and braised leeks.

encouraging kitchen-uational ethics, or, a fergin good soup: choose your pun

that makes this sound racier than it is. what i'm trying to say is that, while it's important to plan ahead on menus and shopping in order to get the most for your money, it's also important to keep a magpie's eye open on your shopping trip to see what's new, because what's new might be available for only a short time, and you should cook with it while you can.
most of the stores in town had fresh black eyed peas at the holidays, for example. it's a traditional dish in some american cultures at new years. why not cook something that's supposed to be good luck? this soup was easy, since i just had to thaw a pork and greens soup base that i made and froze the week before, then toss in a few peppers and the fresh peas-- and let simmer for half an hour.

Friday, January 11, 2008

grilled shrimp, green beans with bacon, and spicy pasta

i wrote about the chili and key lime marinade before... this is the shrimp i used it on, and the noodles i then tossed it with... and the green beans with bacon and almonds i served on the side.
actually the beans were about half the plate, but they're that good.

salad that comes with its own container, doesn't need cutting board

easiest salad ever. i bought a container of baby arugula and took out half and saved for the next day. on top of the already washed greens, still in a container-to-go, i ribboned two carrots, and then added leftover brown rice and sliced almonds, cherry tomatoes, and a handful of sesame seeds.
i know the "spring mix" is practically the mascot of the slow food movement, but i don't like it in a salad with anything else but dressing...maybe some cheese and maybe some meat. i like arugula better in a salad like this, where there's already plenty of flavor and color.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

check for leeks

nice leeks at super saver recently. if you're serving a protein (meat!)

and vegetable, and neither dish comes out particularly onion-y, there is no better garnish to add to the plate than some leeks sauteed in sesame oil, and perhaps a handful of sesame seeds. i threw these right on top of the pork chops once the leeks softened over medium heat.
the leeks not used at dinner went on sandwiches the next day, adding a nice texture and bite to roast beef, provolone and sourdough.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

christmas clearance at cvs

the 'xmas merch' is 90% off at cvs. that means these spiky sponges are 29 cents. available in your choice of green and white or red and white. they had dozens left at the location i visited today.
they're marketed for personal use, but they're practical in the kitchen at twice the price. they come on a wristlet that can hang over the faucet, they dry completely between uses-- and combined with that yellow scouring pad thrown in the foreground for the purposes of illustrating this text, you've got what you need to clean dishes and pans, and stay on this side of sanitary.
i bought three. for a dollar.

use a grill pan to its full capacity

i love my grill pan. even beyond what it can do for great cuts of meat, no longer will i set off my smoke alarm by browning brats or sausages in a skillet, since they're sitting above their shed grease.
but traditional grilling really seemed like a waste of said shed grease, which was great for preparing onions and peppers.
combined with the stove in my apartment-- which is far from level-- the pan ends up collecting fat along one side (so to speak). perfect for browning the toppings.

why would i mess with pastry-making when i can go to le quartier

look at this lovely pastry from the family- owned french bakery in meridian park. it was made with cranberries and dark chocolate chips, people! i served this with coffee for new year's brunch, a simple start to a day with a big dinner coming up.
something to remember for sundays, when it might be tempting to fit two big homemade meals into one day: unless you're trying to fatten everyone up for a potential donner party situation, keep the big meals to one a day. if you still want to enjoy some kitchen fun, prep for other lunches and dinners, or do some menu planning.

Monday, January 7, 2008

key limes regularly stocked at super saver

key limes are about 1.89/# at super saver right now. that means if you want

to buy one to see what they taste like, it would maybe cost you a dime.

key limes are much more tart and intense in flavor than the supermarket standard lime, with strong hints of lemon. you might be more familiar with the flavor in desserts, but key limes glow in savory marinades and dressings. i'm sure they'd sparkle in a cocktail.

this is a very simple marinade for shrimp: one third key lime juice, one third olive oil, one third sesame oil; toss in red pepper flakes at your own discretion.
i marinated shrimp in that, and then grilled the shrimp-- while heating the leftover marinade in a saucepan, and then tossing some cooked noodles in that warm dressing. i served the noodles with the shrimp.

my dream smashed potato recipe comes true now and then

i was at red clover for something else (and while hungry), and fell prey to their produce section. that can cost you, but their selection is maintained well enough to merit a review on every visit. a bag of organic red fingerling potatoes, and a lovely dark green bunch of lacinato kale (aka dino kale), incurred this and several other servings.

first i chopped up four pieces of bacon and began browning the results in a saucepan (which had a heavy lid for later). when the bacon started sputtering, i added one chopped onion and continued over low heat until the onion was translucent. then i added a can of chicken stock and turned up the heat. once the pot began to simmer, i added the fingerling potatoes-- mostly whole, though i halved the larger ones, and all were unpeeled. once the mixture returned to a simmer, i covered and lowered the heat, letting the spuds cook more from steam than boil. i stirred the pot every few minutes until the potatoes were smashable with a fork. after roughing up the potatoes, i added the chopped lacinato kale, and left to simmer uncovered for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. then i moved the pan to a cool burner, still left uncovered, to thicken.
truly dreamy, and practically an entree, especially when made with good potatoes.

Friday, January 4, 2008

when life gives you berries on sale

of all places, sunmart had great- looking baskets of berries on sale 2/$5 last week.

i always want to buy berries-- but then wonder what to do with them. baking with them seems a waste; so does chopping them up for a dessert. might as well use less expensive frozen berries for that.
here's what i will remember for next time:
the color, texture, and size of blackberries make a nice addition to a cheese plate.
whole grains for breakfast, better fresh from the rice cooker, are better yet with brown sugar and blueberries.