Friday, February 29, 2008

baked tofu with shiitake, peas, leeks

some days a produce dept. plays out perfectly for you... like open harvest

did yesterday, when i found the following to go along with the 30% baked tofu from the same store.

leeks by the pound. usually sold by the bunch, which is sometimes (or always) more than enough, i'm more likely to enjoy leeks when i don't have to use five in one dish. of course i only needed one leek and still bought two.

fresh shiitake mushrooms for 12.99#. these look great every time i've seen them in stock recently at open harvest, and that's a great price. they're very lightweight... you can experiment for a dollar or two.

organic snap peas. delicious, a fair price, and a little bit of welcome spring.

i already had a jalapeno, sesame oil, and rice at home.

more delicious le quartier

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

cucumber salad, gomasio and seaweed

gomasio is a traditional seasoning in japanese cuisine. it's sea salt and

toasted sesame seeds. eden organics has some in local health food stores... my favorite variety also has seaweed flakes in it. great on popcorn, and also in this:

peel, seed, and slice the cucumbers. for each cuke, add a splash of rice wine vinegar, a dash of fish sauce, and a few shakes of gomasio. toss. chill until serving.

this is nice on a plate with a spicy meat dish.

cucumbers: the peel session

i couldn't pass up that sale of three cukes for a buck at ideal last week.
for me,

eating cucumber is almost as refreshing as drinking a glass of water.

to peel or not to peel?
i always peel any cucumber that's not organic.

to seed or not to seed?
if you're feeding them to other people, you should seed them. some people have trouble digesting the seeds. i find a grapefruit spoon works really well at gutting the fruit.
yes! it's a fruit! learn more:
coming next: the best and easiest cucumber salad ever.

Monday, February 25, 2008

half-loaves from le quartier

if you visit le quartier bakery, you can buy half- loaves for two bucks, until they run out. these are handy if you want to use it all in one lunch while it's super fresh, or if you're trying to keep the carbs in a full loaf out of the house. because if you've tried their bread you'll know... it's kind of hard to stop eating it.

sale ad review: hy-vee, 2/25-2/26

this sale in addition to the week-long wednesday ad, and it's only today and tomorrow. the main item for me is asparagus at 1.68/#.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

closing sale at kitchen store

i saw the "store closing" sign for urban villa, on south 48th in college view,

when getting coffee at the mill on prescott. i went over to check it out. all food items are 25% off, all non-food 40% off.
i'd wanted one of these tiny graters, for no good reason that comes to mind-- but isn't it worth a dollar? the headphones are in the picture for scale. do not use this grater on your headphones. (earbuds, whatever.) i'm thinking it would be useful for nutmeg.

and then, an escargot plate. original price of 6.95. i'm intending this to be a reasonably-sized deviled-egg serving dish, but i fear it's a slippery (slimy?) slope until you see a post about snails.

anyway. it is sad to see a local proprietor close up shop. having said that, they could probably use your money right now, and you might find a deal on something you want.

while you're in college view, hit up the salad bar or bakery at union college... and there's always conroy's (for the smell of baking cookies alone), and the mill (for coffee while you shop), on prescott just off 48th.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

sale ad review: ideal, 2/23-2/29

ideal's got some pork blowout going on this week. i always like the use of a happy cartoon pig when advertising pork. and i admit i'm curious about "the many other pork items." what could they be?

highlights for me this week include 1.59 for a quart of half and half, and hydroponic tomatoes for 69/#. that's very very cheap for hydroponic tomatoes.
also, pink lady apples are 79/# and strawberries are 1.99/#, but i'd check the quality before planning the use of those two.

Friday, February 22, 2008

hello, mr. chips. i knew you at all.

the chip company (see below) has quite a name to live up to, but both flavors i

have tried are good.
the multigrain is better and lighter than i would've expected. and the olive flavor is quite nice.

here, i was going with those olive chips and good strong gruyere and cabot cheeses.
i had planned on avocado wedges on the plate as well, but the avocados i got on sale were pretty bruised up. i salvaged out of them what i could and tossed the bounty with some balsamic vinaigrette. i might even try that again with a perfect avocado, after tasting this with the cheese.

stuff on sale inside of fresh tortillas

i made a sort of pie crust out of the tortillas from marlene's, and some of the

produce (and meat and dairy) i've purchased recently went into the stuffing.

first, a layer of tortillas into a pyrex-sort of pie pan. i arranged mine out of five overlapping pieces.

there were two layers of stuffing. the first layer (lower picture) consisted of the following sautee: one julienned onion, one cubed mango, one cubed red pepper, and one diced jalapeno--added, in that order, to some olive oil over heat as high as i could get it without burning everything. then i added the steak round discussed earlier, cut into even smaller strips. once close to done, ladled this into tortilla pie shell, reserving one scoop.

(another layer of tortillas)

the second layer of stuffing was shredded mozzarella with chili flakes all around.

(another layer of tortillas)

i sliced into the top layer of tortillas just inside the circle's outside edge, and sprinkled shredded cheese along the same arcs. i also sliced an x into the top layer's center and topped that with more shredded cheese and then the reserved steak mixture.
i baked this at 350 for about 15 minutes... it's all safe to eat upon entering the oven, so was ready to go when the cheese looked tasty.

my advice about "manager's special" meat

at the bigger grocery stores, you'll find marked down prices in the meat section. this is because the meat is very close to its sell-by date. i would understand your hesitation to buy these items-- because that means more for me!-- but here's some guidelines i've found useful.

first: will i make it tonight?
second: really?

third: am i generally happy with the meat i've bought here recently? (if you don't have enough information to answer, the answer is no.)

i tend to stay away from "markdown" poultry, but i don't go much for poultry in the first place. if you want to try it out, i would add another round of "really?" above, maybe in caps and with an added exclamation point. i would also have a backup meal plan in mind.

there's usually an added tag or sticker on the front of the package, as shown here on the deal from hy-vee. look for that to find the items in question, but be aware that some stores put the house sale sticker on anything marked down, even advertised sale items. (i have seen this vary from location to location in chain stores.) in which case, you might find this sticker on very fresh meat... so don't be scared that it's old, if you were going to buy it anyway.

one last caveat: it's always a good idea to check the date. anywhere in the grocery store.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

sale ad review: chains, 2/20-2/26

first, i have to point out a sale that's on at hy-vee only tomorrow, thursday, 2/21. red peppers 79c ea, 8oz house brand shredded cheese 3/$5. also, my fave can food (aka favorite canned food): spaghettios for 39c a can!

all tolled and told, my picks from the chains:
russ'. rotella bread 79c, half gal of meadow gold oj 1.50.
sunmart. if you buy two bags of dole salad mix, which runs you $5.50, you get the following for free: one less-than-pint of cherry tomatoes, one cucumber, one bag shredded carrots, one house brand 16oz salad dressing. if you will consume all that while it's still good, and enjoy it, it's a nice deal.
hy-vee all week. mangos 99ea, amy's burritos 4/$9, avocados 1.50

sale ad review: ideal, 2/16-2/22

so, i've decided to do a better job with the reviewing of, and reporting on, sale ads.
this is from ideal for this week. the highlights for me were in the produce dept.
cucumbers three for a buck, cauliflower 79c a head, and texas grapefruit four for a dollar.
these prices last through friday night. saturday brings a new ad from ideal.

i swear there's a virgin mary on this tortilla from marlene's

i finally went into marlene's tortillaria. it's in the old soda bottling plant that's across the parkway from lincoln high. you enter the store off the parking lot that's behind the building. the space is warm, sunny, and spotless.
they have a small selection of mexican groceries, and of course, freshly made tortillas. a buck sixty for a pack of about thirty. they were still warm!
also: open seven days a week.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

you will be happy with a rice cooker

rice cookers are lovely things. even if you have your pan and stove routine

down to an exact dance, you'll be happy with one.

for one thing, it frees up a burner. for another, it's one less thing that can go wrong when making dinner, since it knows when it's done and shuts itself off. you can use them for brown rice as well as other whole grains.
if you're rinsing the rice, you can do that right in the removable pan. one cup of rice goes in the pan, and then enough water to rinse it. use the lid as a strainer and dump out the water. then add the correct amount of water (the same ratio you would use on the stovetop-- in this case, two cups) and place in the cooker.
they're as cheap as 9.99 at walgreen's.

those 20% off coupons in the mail

you know all those 20% off coupons you get in the mail, either on their own or in circulars-- from linens & things, and from bed bath & beyond?
this is a good tip. each chain honors each others' coupons. and, the expiration dates are meaningless. keep one in your glove compartment-- trust me.
with the coupon, this cute kitchen toy was only 80 cents at linens. it looks like a shot glass, but it has hash marks to measure all of the following: teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces and milliliters.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy easter! (planning ahead.)

did you know "lupercalia" is latin for "february 15th is a good day to buy expensive chocolate"?

well, of course that's not true. but tomorrow is a good day to find candy on sale, at grocery stores as well as candy shops and department stores.
if you look for pastel-colored valentine packaging, you could give fancy chocolates away for easter (march 23rd this year--early!) without breaking the bank. gold or silver packaging would work, too.

i bought these chocolates right after christmas, after looking for red packaging for valentine's day gifts. it's a brand i was familiar with, though i wasn't expecting to find it at hy-vee. especially for one dollar per box of six truffles.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

saffron and pepper noodles

i sauteed one diced onion in olive oil until soft-- and then added the half gram

of saffron (and the wine it soaked in), two chopped red peppers and a half pint of cherry tomatoes. as soon as the peppers were done, i tossed this with the noodles and served with grilled shrimp and a salad of greens, almonds and bluberries.

since it was the first time in forever that i cooked with saffron, i kept the first experiment simple, but i'm looking forward to trying out a few other dishes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

looking for saffron, sweetie darling

my search for saffron yesterday started at the 70th & pioneers hy-vee.

i couldn't find any and neither could the nice man who helped me look.
my next stop was leon's. i knew they would have it and they did: a gram from

spice island for $17. ouch!
i called open harvest from inside the store. the person who answered checked their prices and quoted ten bucks for a gram of saffron, or $7 for half as much.

i headed to the co-op, not sure if i was going to splurge. but then i found this brand of saffron, called safinter, in the baking section at open harvest... for 2.99 for a half-gram. i included the photo to prove it's true.

the middle picture shows more clearly how many threads you get. and the top picture is the threads soaking in white wine, which you want to do before adding to your recipe. i'll show the dish i made, but learn more about saffron while you wait:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

don't shop hungry. or dehydrated. and, read labels.

i found this soda in ideal grocery.

i looked at the label, but only did a quick scan of the first few ingredients-- which showed me it couldn't possibly be diet, because it listed fructose first.

after i'd opened it at home, i read the label more closely. then i saw it contained both fructose and aspartame, an artificial sweetener.
the brand name is orchard clear, which sounds nothing like ocean spray.

a picture that tells 250 words

so i can keep it shorter than that.

red clover, clearance sale, serious crackers (as in: other side of the spectrum from saltines, but still good), close-dated, good deal.
no comment on the name. small company from texas.

editing this to say: fine, i will comment on the name. it sounds like the name of a band i don't want to hear, guest starring on a late night talk show that i don't watch.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

happy dish wednesday

clean from ash and other days

Saturday, February 2, 2008

hallelujah, dim sum

in your face, omaha! lincoln, nebraska now has dim sum.

peking palace, at 8341 O st (that would be the SW corner of 84th & O st) has dim sum now. only mid-day (of course) and on weekends (okay...).

i read about this in the journal star's ground zero yesterday, and was there today, to try out my two standard favorites of a dim sum menu, one morsel of each in the picture here.
the bbq pork bun... pretty to look at, light on the meat.
the lotus leaf-wrapped rice... smaller than i'm used to, but heavy on decent meat.

learn more about dim sum and my selections thereof: