Sunday, July 20, 2014

Easy Peasy Pickled Beets

Miss MoneyPenny loves all things pickled.  My mom used to make pickles in a big crock and then can them.  I was crazy about the dills.  And my sister, Miss SmartyPants, used to make bread and butter pickles that were so good.  I was always thrilled when she sent me home with a box of her home canned food.  This, of course, was during her earth mother years.

I've always thought that pickling had to be a big deal which involved crocks, canners, and guages.  Well, it doesn't have to be.  I'm not a canner but I do want pickled stuff.  I like to reach in the fridge and grab pickled beets and onions for my salads and sandwiches without going to all that work.

My easy peasy method involves going out to the garden and picking a bunch of beets and onions.  You could also do this at the store if you don't have a garden.  I suggest your local farm stand.  Anyway after the beets are cleaned and the tops trimmed to about two inches I wrap them all up in a big heavy foil package and roast them at 350 until tender.  This takes about an hour or longer depending on the size of the beets.

After the beets are cooled, the skins just slip off like magic.  I chop my beets into cubes but you could do slices if that flips your skirt.  Then I fill the jar with sliced onions:

If you had some boiled eggs they could go in also.  Then I make my brine and pour it over the top making the onions shrink up so they are covered by the brine.  I put a lid on and they go in the fridge for a week before you can eat them.

Here is the recipe:

1 bunch beets - roasted
3 onions - sliced

1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 t salt

Boil the brine and pour over the beets and onions.

I told you it was easy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 7/16

I told you that Miss PeggyRae was a gifted gardener and this is just part of her deck!!  She puts my little deck pots to shame.  And her flower beds are stunning.  The little flower sniffer is my great granddaughter, Miss AslynGrace.

I'm gonna have the water bill from hell this month.  The weather man said it was the 11th day in the 80s or above which is very unusual for this part of the world.  My average daytime temperature has drifted around 90.  Even though I have everything mulched my plants still gasp for water because they are in total sun.  I couldn't bear to let my veggies and beautiful flowers die so I spend a lot of time watering.

Okay - let's look at the grocery ad this week.  It is not very exciting but I do want to mention again that the cherry season is short as well as for fresh wild salmon, so get them now.  QFC also has Marie Callender pot pies on sale for $2 a pie.  These pies are really good (for processed food) and I like to keep some in the freezer for emergency times when there is nothing to eat.

Here are my suggestion for this week:

Franz Organic Bread - $3.49/loaf
Starbucks Coffee - $6.99/12oz bag
Fage Greek Yogurt - $1/7oz
International Delight Coffee Creamer - $2.69/qt
Kroger Cottage Cheese - $2.50/24oz
Nancy's Yogurt - $2/qt
Marie Callender's Pot Pies - $2/ea
Fresh NW Cooked Shrimp Meat - $5.99/lb
Fresh Wild King Salmon - $16.99/lb
Fresh Wild Sockeye Salmon - $10.99/lb
NW Blueberries - $4.99/2lb
Broccoli Crowns - $1.29/lb
Spinach - $1.29/bunch
Local Peaches, Apricots, & Nectarines - $1.99/lb
Red Cherries - $2.99/lb
Yellow Squash or Zucchini - $ .99/lb
Green Beans - $ .99/lb

A lot of people don't like beets but I do.  I pulled these big babies this morning and they are now tightly wrapped in heavy foil and sitting in a low and slow oven until they are tender.  After they are cooled off the skins are easy to slip off but you still get purple fingers.

I usually make a small batch of pickled beets for the fridge.  They are delish in salads.  Sometimes I slice up an onion from the garden and add it to the pickled beets.  Pickled onions give new life to a sandwich.  Be careful because they are highly addictive.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fun in the Dark 7/14

Now you know that Miss MoneyPenny said that when she retired she was going to the movies, read all the interesting books, garden, and hang out with her friends.  I'm here to tell you that sure has been fun.  Lately I've seen three films worth mentioning and I thought I would share.  I'm not a film critic but I like a wide variety of movies, except horror, of course, and think that I am a pretty good judge

The top picture is from the comedy Tammy which stars Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon as her hard drinking grandma.  Tammy's life is a mess and she and her grandma take off on a road trip to Niagara Falls.  Because of her grandma's drinking and Tammy's strange way of dealing with life everything goes crazy along the way.  You can imagine with Kathy Bates as the lesbian aunt with a passion for blowing things up how things go.  The Bradster and I enjoyed this movie.  It hung together well and the funny parts were funny.  Melissa can get pretty gross in a lot of her movies but not this one.

The other movie that the Bradster and I saw was Jersey Boys.  This film is based on the Tony award winning Broadway musical and was directed by Clint Eastwood who is a lover of music.  This is the story of the huge 60s rock group The Four Seasons complete with great music.  These guys came from the wrong side of the track.  In fact, a couple of them were in and out of prison back in the early days.  Frankie Valli was played by John Lloyd Young and he did a bang up job.  Christopher Walken played the mob guy who smoothed the way for Frankie and his band.  Mob??  Who knew??

If you are of a certain age and I am, and you loved the music of The Four Seasons you will enjoy this film.  I knew that "Sherry" was a huge hit for them but didn't know that it was their first featuring Frankie's soprano.  I can't begin to tell you how many times I've had that song sung to me...and usually not very good.

If you can find Chef anywhere go see it.  This little pearl of a film gets the MoneyPenny award for the best film in at least five years.  When Miss KnowItAll and I went to see it we were told that people come back to see it again and again.  I can understand that.

This film is directed by Jon Favreau who usually does big blockbuster movies like the Iron Man series.  He also stars as Karl Casper, a chef in a high end restaurant.  He wants to serve a special meal to the restaurant critic who is coming that night but his boss, played by Dustin Hoffman, makes him stick to the menu.  He gets a stinker of a review and the fun begins.  He ends up loosing his job and has to reinvent himself by cleaning up an old food truck and going on the road.  He is accompanied by his old sou chef (John Leguizano) and his delightful son, Percy, played by Enjay Anthony.

You might think that this film is about food and cooking.  And it is, but it is also about love and relationships.  Karl's ex-wife is played by Sofia Vergara who is a real sexy Latin beauty who loves her son and believes in her ex-husband's talent for cooking.

The music is also wonderful in this film.  And you get to learn how to make a truly fine grilled cheese sandwich.  One of my lifetime favorite sandwiches.

I also want to mention Ray Donovan which is a Showtime series that is out on DVD.  Ray is a fixer for the rich and famous in Hollywood but he can't seem to do a thing about his big Irish family who get into every jam that you can think of.  Ray is played by Liev Schreiber and his trouble making father is played by Jon Voight who is so sleazy that he scares me.

This show kind of reminds me of the Sopranos but Ray is much more smooth than Tony and these guys are Irish not Italian.  Great entertainment!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Costco Coupons 7/10/14 - 8/3/14

Check out the size of these beautiful carrots!!  The reason that I'm so excited about them is that I tried to grow carrots back in the 90s and they were about the size of those little itty bitty corns that you see in Chinese food, so I've given them a pass.  I know that I've told you that potatoes from your garden are not the same animal as those from the grocery store.  Same thing with the carrots.  So sweet and you don't need to peel them.

There is something so satisfying in going out to the back yard in the morning and picking raspberries for my cereal.  Then out there again to pick lettuce and an onion for my lunchtime sandwich - and carrots for my dinner.  When you can feed yourself you beat the hell out of your grocery budget.  Yes!!  And working in the garden keeps me out of the bars.

Okay, let's look at the coupons.  You know, of course, that the way to get the most from your Costco dollars is to buy your stuff with coupons.  It makes the deal that much more sweeter.

I want to point out that Costco is offering the ladies' lounge pant again in the two pack.  I bought these last winter and wear them around the house and to bed all the time.  They are good quality and long enough!!  I have such a hard time with too short pants.  I was talking to a clerk at Costco about this who has the same problem.  She said that if the pants are too short she rolls them up and makes capris out of them.  Genius!!

Here are some good coupons:

Colgate Optic White Toothpaste - $4.50
Karen Neuberger Ladies' Lounge Pant - $3/2pk
Centrum Silver - $3
Honeynut Cheerios - $2.30
Kellogg's Strawberry Special K - $2.20
Gain Powder - $4.50 (I've been happy using this instead of Tide)
Gain Liquid - $4
Perrier Sparkling Water - $3.50
Kleenex - $3.50

If you use vitamins and supplements it is a no-brainer to buy them at Costco, especially with a coupon.  I also buy my smartphones and tires there for big savings.  My Galaxy ended up costing me nothing once I got the rebate.

Mom buys the plumbing vans and this is the new one.  I have really good credit (826) so I get the good deals which included zero down and zero interest.  That is a huge saving when you consider that a new van tricked out with all the shelving comes in at around thirty grand.  I don't know what 4 or 5 percent interest would be but I imagine that it would be a couple thousand added on to the price.

My son, the plumber, with his granddaughter and his beloved old dog, Dean.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 7/9

Have you ever been flocked??  Me either.  I got up Saturday morning, let the dogs out, started the coffee, and opened the front door to let the cat out and this is what I was presented with.  Cool, huh??  It seems that the Chimacum Cheerleaders are doing a fund raiser.  The deal is you get flocked by someone.  Then you fill out the form, insert money and designate who you want to be flocked next.  I chose Mr SuperGenius and he was really thrilled.  Here is his front yard:

Okay - let's talk pork prices.  In an earlier post I noted that pork butt prices had really gone up this year.  I ended up paying double what I paid last year at $2.99 per pound for the meat that I use for the pulled pork dish that I serve at my 4th of July party.  I did a little research into this and discovered that not only were the piggy herds suffering through the drought but they were also hit with a virus that was killing them off.  This means that we will be paying more for our pork chops and bacon...probably forever because you rarely see prices go down but once the herds are back up we should see more sales.

So - let's look at the ad this week.  Here in the Pacific Northwest we have been having the most amazing warm weather which means our veggie gardens are going great guns.  I have lots of tomatoes which will be ripening soon and I should be eating green beans by the first of the month.  And the potatoes!!  Crazy this year.  If you don't have a garden consider buying your produce from one of the local stands because QFC sure isn't putting theirs out for summertime prices.  What gives??

Also I was talking to Mr CutiePie the other day and he was saying that Mid-Channel will be opening up soon but you can take only one salmon per day this year.  I remember the days when my favorite ex-husband fished out there and supplied all of our friends with fresh salmon.  Those days are gone but you can get good salmon from QFC as their fish market is the best in the area.

Here are my suggestions for "real" food this week:

Franz Bread - $1.99/loaf
Fage Greek Yogurt - $1/7oz
QFC Large Eggs - $1.99/18ct
Tillamook Butter - $2.99/lb
Nature's Bounty Vitamins - BOGO
Draper Valley Split Chicken Breasts - $2.79/lb
Fresh Alaska Sockeye Salmon Fillets - $10.99/lb
Fresh Wild King Salmon Fillets - $16.99/lb
Boneless Flank Steaks - $6.99/lb
Driscoll's Strawberries or Blueberries - $2/16oz pack/pint
Green Onions or Bunch Radishes - $ .50/ea
Medium Avocados or Mangos - $ .99/ea
Rainier Cherries - $3.99/lb
Red Cherries - $2.99/lb
Red or Black Plums - $1.99/lb
Colored Bell Peppers - $1.50/ea
Nectarines - $1.99/lb (these have been very good this year)
Zucchini or Yellow Squash - $ .99/lb

My first bouquet of dahlias this year.  The way to keep your dahlias coming until the first hard frost is to keep deadheading them and or picking lots of bouquets for the house.  I've also been watering them with a solution of 1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts to one gallon of water which is good for our poor soil here because it is lacking in magnesium.  Actually I've been dousing everything with this magic potion.  Miss PeggyRae puts it on her deck pots and I've never seen more beautiful flowers.  I told her she should take pictures and send them to Fine Gardening magazine because they are truly spectacular.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 7/2

Looks like it snowed under the Mock Orange, doesn't it??  Miss Know-It-All gave me this tree when I first moved here.  At the time it was a sad looking twig but she assured me that it would be gorgeous some day.  And it is!!  If we'd had any idea that it was going to get so big it would have been planted elsewhere but, as it is, he gets an annual prune just to keep him this size.

This Friday marks the 5th annual MoneyPenny 4th of July party.  I've been praying for no rain and it looks like I'm gonna get my wish.  Hopefully it won't be as hot as yesterday (92 in the shade) because we would be miserable as I don't have shade on my deck, other than the umbrella.

I've been waiting for a sale on pork butt for the pulled pork that I serve at the party but the cheapest I've found is $2.39 a pound at Costco.  Usually I pay between $ .99 and $1.49 per pound.  I guess it is true that meat prices are going through the roof.

Today I'm taking the insert from my biggest crockpot up to the butcher at QFC.  This worked great last year.  I hand him the insert and he cuts a piece of meat to fit.  Easy peasy.  Tomorrow I will cook it all day until if falls off the bone.  I get up early Friday morning and shred the meat and mix it with onions and BBQ sauce and put it back in the insert and let it rip.  Delish!!

Okay - let's look at the ad for this week.  If you want some wild King Salmon and you don't know any fishermen it is gonna set you back for $16.99 a pound.  My favorite ex-husband used to catch so much salmon that we took it for granted.  Who knew that it would become so dear??  Anyway the season is short and the fresh salmon is beyond delicious.  Also - grab the Northwest Cherries as their season is also short.

Here are my suggestions:

Orowheat Bread - $3/loaf
Seattle's Best Coffee - $4.99/12oz
Chobani Greek Yogurt - $1/5.3oz
QFC Butter - $2.50/lb
Naturally Nested Eggs - $2.50/doz
Tillamook Cheese - $5.99/2lb loaf
Nature Made Vitamins - BOGO
Fresh NW Cooked Shrimp Meat - $5.99/lb
Fresh Wild King Salmon Fillets - $16.99/lb
Fresh Wild Sockeye Salmon Fillets - $10.99/lb
Hebrew National Beef Franks - $3/12oz pack
Lean Ground Beef - $4.99/lb
Ribeye Steaks - $6.99/lb
NW Apricots - $2.99/lb
Spinach - $1.29/bunch
NW Red or Rainier Cherries - $2.99/lb
Tomatoes on the Vine - $1.49/lb
Walla Walla Sweet Onions - $ .99/lb
Peaches or Nectarines - $1.99/lb

Every spring Shane, the world's cutest handyman, and I tromp all over the deck looking for bad spots.  He then rips up the bad boards and replaces them with new ones.  Somehow we missed one and it was right under the table.  I noticed it when I was putting up the umbrella so he made an emergency repair last night.  Somebody might be mad at me if they fell through during the party.


You might have noticed the new HIGH sale prices on bread, butter, eggs, and Tillamook cheese.  The cheese alone is a 20% jump.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 6/25

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  The neighbors on two sides (not Tina - a blackberry vine would have to be foolhardy to grow in her yard) of Casa MoneyPenny let their yards go to hell including allowing blackberries to run rampant.  For years I would whip myself into a frenzy trying to battle them but I finally calmed down because these are good tasting berries.

Now I just prune out the "males" which are those big thick long vines with no berries on them that grab you when you walk by.  After the season is over I then take out the rest - at least on my side and clean up the fence.  It's a pain in the butt but what else can I do??

Okay - as I look at the ad it puzzles me that there is hardly any produce on sale.  If not in the summer...when??  But there is lots of fresh salmon, halibut, and shrimp.  Also QFC is running a Buy 6, Save $3 promotion which is really just $ .50 off which isn't that impressive to me but if you need any canned or packaged food check it out.

Here are my suggestions this week:

Seattle's Best Coffee - $4.99/12oz
Draper Valley Whole Chickens - $ .99/lb
Fresh Alaska Halibut Fillets - $16.99/lb
Fresh NW Cooked Shrimp Meat - $5.99/lb
Fresh Dover Sole Fillets - $5.99/lb
Fresh Sockeye Salmon Fillets - $10.99/lb
Hebrew National Beef Franks - $3.49/pack
New York Steak - $6.99/lb
Ronzoni Pasta - $ .49/16oz (Buy 6 promo)
Bunch Spinach - $1.29/bunch
NW Rainier Cherries - $3.98/lb
Red Cherries - $2.99/lb
Romaine, Boston, Red or Green Leaf Lettuce - $1.50/head
Sweet Corn - 3/$1

My kitty, DC, always joins me at the computer.  You can see that she is not pleased that I have moved her off the keyboard.