Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in Eugene Pictures

When my sister and I get together for the holidays we put together a jigsaw puzzle.  This is our latest effort and it was really tough.  Look at all those white flowers and green trees.  We actually gave up and went to bed with about 30 pieces left that all looked alike, so my sister finished it and sent this picture while we were on our way up I-5.

As I've mentioned before my sister and I love to cook together and it was a real treat to put together the Christmas Eve dinner.  We decided this year that instead of oiling the roast we would rub it all over with butter.  Everything is better with butter, right??  Then we doused it with Worcestershire Sauce and rubbed it down with Montreal Steak Seasoning.

We roasted it in a hot oven for 20 minutes, then turned it down to 325.  Everything was going great until the neighbor from across the street arrived with a whole slew of micro beers from the Willamette Valley for a tasting party.

Somehow I only captured his back end as he was telling us about the different beers but you can see the two men holding dogs - the Bradster with Pici and my sister's ex holding her dog, Rosie.  I don't know why I find that funny.  Anyway - one thing led to another and before you knew it our roast was well done.

Darn that neighbor and his good beer but the roast turned out delicious anyway.  Luckily there wasn't anyone there who wasn't happy without rare meat, or even medium meat, for that matter.

This is my brother Mikey.  The older he gets the more he looks like our dad.  He and his wife, Robin, live in Roseburg and they are raising their pretty little granddaughter, Miley.

It was hard to get all the grand kids together and sitting still.  This is my best effort.  Christmas is much more fun with kids around and these kids were having a fabulous time.

The Bradster was playing Scrabble with the kids at one time.  I don't know what this game is but I do know that they beat him at everything.  I did notice that he was allowing some very strange sounding words that I've never heard before when they were playing Scrabble.  That might have had something to do with it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rib Roast Coupon

I hope that if you are buying a rib roast for Christmas dinner that you haven't done it yet.  My sweet sister-in-law, Miss Denise, who works in the meat department of QFC, posted this link to a $10 coupon on Facebook this morning and I stole it.  It's okay because I told her I was gonna do it.  That's why she posted it.  Right??  Anyway here is the link so you can get $10 off of the cost of your roast.

This is a digital coupon which will link right to your QFC card, so if you haven't registered your card now is the time.  It's quick and easy and you can do it from the coupon page.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 12/17

My sister, Miss SmartyPants, works at least 60 hours a week at her business plus she is raising her three grandchildren.  Still she manages to get her Eugene house decorated for Christmas and maybe the one down on the coast for all I know.

And this is my next door neighbor Tina's place.  It scares me when she gets up on the roof and hangs over.  And, yes, that is a ten foot snowman.  This picture doesn't do it justice but it is the only one that I took that shows the snowman because he lights up every few seconds.

This is my decorating.  The ladies at the Nordland Garden Club forgot about me this year so I got my wreath at Costco for $15.  Not only was it $10 cheaper, it is bigger and fresher and I think it looks very nice.  Sorry ladies but I'm doing the Costco wreaths from now on.

I can't believe that it is almost Christmas already!!  How did that happen??  The Bradster and I are doing something different this year.  We are getting up seriously early on the 24th and heading for Oregon.  We should be in Eugene by noon if we avoid the traffic.  Sometimes getting through Portland during holiday rush hour traffic can be tricky.

My sister always has a big Christmas Eve dinner with lots of kids and relatives and we are going to join in this year.  We are planning to get there early so I can help with the preparation of the prime rib dinner.  We love to cook together and have turned out some amazing feasts over the years.

I want you to know that serving prime rib for Christmas is one of the easiest main dishes that you can do.  Nothing like a turkey but it is also probably the most expensive.  This year, at QFC, prime rib is going for $9.99 per pound which is $2 a pound more expensive than last year.

When you buy your roast you have to to decide on the size.  You could go for a rib per person or decide how much you are gonna spend and that is it.  Don't ask the butcher (who is usually your friend) because you might end up with a $120 roast like I did once.  So, if you have $60 buy a six pound roast and call it good.  With all the other goodies on the table you will be fine.

I never give leftovers to my guests.  I keep it all for me, if there is any, that is.  When I carve the roast I always hide the bones because they are delicious roasted with BBQ sauce later when the holidays are over and the days are dark and gloomy.

I consulted my sister to see how she was gonna do the roast this year.  She said she was going to oil it up and rub Montreal Steak Seasoning all over it.  This makes a fabulous roast.  I like to do this too, but I also add a good lube of Worcestershire Sauce.  Easy peasy.

She also said that she starts the roast out at 425 degrees for a bit (???) and then turns it down to 325 until done.  I prefer a medium roast but some people think that is a sin.  Use your meat thermometer to get it exactly like you want it.  For rare you want to cook it about 23 minutes per pound but all this is variable depending on your oven.  Example:  6 pound roast x 23 min = 138 min = 2 1/2 hours.  I would start checking at two hours.

Okay - let's look at the ad.  This is a big ad and lasts through Christmas Day so I won't be doing the next ad until the 31st.  Plus, I will be on the I-5 headed to Eugene.

If your budget won't expand for prime rib you could do a turkey because QFC is running the promo where you buy $30 worth of groceries you get a turkey for $ .69 a pound.  I did this for Thanksgiving and it turned out great.  You could also do a Hormel ham for $1.99 a pound or even Fresh Crab for $5.99 a pound.

I also want to mention that QFC is giving you a free gallon of milk if you buy four Chex cereals.  I don't really care for the cereal but my Aunt Barbara used to make this killer Chex Mix with it, so that might be an idea if you need snacks.

Here are my suggestions:

Gold Medal Flour - $2.50/5lb
Kroger Brown Sugar - $2/2lb
Kroger Spices - 50% off
McCafe Coffee - $6.99/12oz
Chex Cereal - Buy 4/get free gal Milk ($3/box)
Del Monte Vegetables - $ .50/can
Swanson Broth - $2/qt
Challenge Butter - $2.49/lb
Kroger Sour Cream - $1.50/16oz
Philadelphia Cream Cheese - 3 for $5/8oz bar
QFC Whipping Cream - $2.99/pint
Tillamook Cheese - $5.99/2lb
Kroger Frozen Vegetables - $1/12oz bag
Boneless Sirloin Tip Roast - $3.99/lb
Rib Roast - $9.99/lb
Fresh Cooked Dungeness Crab - $5.99/lb
Hormel Cure 81 Half Spiral Ham - $1.99/lb
Private Selection Turkey - $ .69/lb (must spend additional $30)
Pears - $1.49/lb
Broccoli Crowns or Cauliflower - $ .99/lb
Celery or Mayan Sweet Onions - $ .99/lb
Fuji, Gala or Granny Smith Apples - $1.28/lb
Green Beans or Brussels Sprouts - $1.99/lb
Nature Sweet Tomatoes - $2.99/10.5oz
Colored Bell Peppers - $1.50/ea
Sweet Potatoes or Yams - $ .99/lb

My son, the plumber, gave me a Macy's gift card for my birthday and this is how I spent some of it.  I got it for 30% off plus another 10% from my Macy's Wallet and free shipping.  And 6% went into my Ebates account.  I hope that if you are doing online shopping that you are going through Ebates.  It really does add up and it is nice to get that check.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

2014 Garden Recap

I searched through my pictures to find a pretty picture of my garden to remind me how beautiful it can be because it sure looks crappy right now:

Isn't this just God-awful??  Believe it or not but we had a big giant wind storm the other night and when I got up in the morning all the cardboard and big heavy wet rugs had been blown off.  How could that be when they were weighted down with bricks??  That was a new one on me.

As you can see I've run out of rugs and cardboard so when I get a new box I quickly tear it down and go out to the garden.  After I weed a patch that matches the size of my cardboard I mulch it with compost and cover it up.  In the spring I just remove the cover from the section I want to plant and plant it.  No weeds!!  Genius.

I want to start with my successes from my gardening year.  First I get my seeds only from Territorial and my plants from Red Dog Farm which is a local organic farm.  In my experience they have worked the best in my gardening conditions.

Also, I now know for sure that I can only achieve success in growing basil and peppers by keeping them in my greenhouse all summer.  I grew several different peppers from Red Dog and they all did really well.  I also grew basil in the garden but it didn't compare to the greenhouse basil.

Now that I think about it I had good success with all my root crops and they were all grown from seed except the onions and potatoes.  This was my best year ever for carrots and beets.  I only grow beets for pickling and they are crazy good.  I had potatoes all over the garden because last year's crop volunteered.  I'm not gonna plant new ones next year and see what happens.  The radishes were beautiful and sweet and one of the first things for harvest.

Onions are the best!!  I love love the onions.  This year I planted Walla Wallas, yellow onions, red onions, and shallots.  I gave half of my starts to Tina and she grew them too.

And the garlic!!  This was my first year with the garlic.  I got my bulbs from a friend at my knitting group.  She got them from a friend who smuggled them in from Italy.  Everyone of the cloves that I planted grew into beautiful heads of garlic.  I even braided my garlic.  Now that was fun.  This year I planted twice as much as last year using the biggest heads.

I have blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry beds and they produced wildly all summer due to the different bearing plants.  I did not buy fruit from June  until October.  Oh, yeah.  I also got a lot of blackberries from the vines that hang over my fence from the neighbors.  I'm starting to worry that when I cut them back off my fence every fall that it just makes them come back like gangbusters.  I don't know.

I had mixed luck with my tomatoes.  I bought a Roma and a Sungold and put them in black tomato growing bags in the number 1 garden.  The Sungold, of course, went crazy and produced very well.  The Roma gave out 10 to 12 delicious tomatoes and curled up its toes, turned black, and died.  I had literally hundred of volunteer tomato starts in my gardens this year.  I pulled them like crazy but one got away from me and was quite large before I noticed it.  I thought what the heck and let it grow.  That thing gave off billions of cherry tomatoes.  You never know.

This is the year of the volunteer because nasturtiums ending up taking over the green beans.  I thought that they were pretty so I left them.  Wrong.  I had dinner sized nasturtium leaves and hardly any beans.  You live, you learn.

Since I grow my zucchini in an old wheel barrow and my cucumbers in a big pot I thought that I would try seeds developed just for pots.  I'm here to tell you that I did not get one zucchini or one cucumber.  Who every heard of that??  I'm never doing that again.  I don't know why it didn't work.  It just didn't.  Maybe I pissed off the gardening God.  Who knows.

Last summer was just too hot for lettuce.  My beautiful lettuce would just about be ready to harvest and the next day it would bolt.  I've decided that I'm not growing lettuce any more.  It takes up a lot of room when Chimacum Corners has beautiful lettuce grown locally and that is what I will be using from now on.  However, I will still be planting chard because I love the heck out of it and it does very well in my garden.

As usual I grew dill and cilantro in my garden, as well as sunflowers, dahlias, cosmos, zinnias, and marigolds.  I believe, and I might be wrong, that flowers attract the bees for good pollination.  Plus, they add so much to the beauty of the garden.  And you can pick them for endless bouquets.

Growing a garden is a lot of work.  There is no getting around it.  And it can be heartbreaking.  But if you want beautiful produce that you know is pure as the driven snow, go for it.  And we still haven't talked about the effect of growing your own produce has on the grocery budget.  Talk about stretching a buck.  Not to mention the free exercise.

As I look back on my gardening year I think about how satisfying it is to go out in the garden every day and decide what the menu is going to be.  Eating food that is perfectly ripe is a real joy.  It just doesn't taste the same as what you get at QFC during the winter.  Who knew that the humble carrot could be so good??

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 12/10

My son, the plumber, has our family photos and every so often he will post one of them on Facebook.  They always bring back old memories of when we were all young and definitely having a good time.  I've mentioned before that my favorite ex-husband used to race stock cars and here is the proof.  Look at all that beautiful hair on my son!!  It makes me sad that at least three of these guys are dead, including my favorite ex-husband.  He always said to live hard and die fast.  He knew what he was talking about because that is just what he did.

This is when we hiked two miles into Surprise Lake to do a little spring fishing.  It was just us and the bear who took a brand new two pound brick of Tillamook cheese from our camp site.  We decided to leave then.

The only reason that we ended up on the Olympic Peninsula was because of the fishing.  My son is holding his much loved old cat, Dee Dee, when we lived in Port Angeles.  Look at the size of that salmon or maybe it is a steelhead.  I can tell by the long underwear and the waders that this fish was caught in the winter.  Probably on the Hoh or Bogachiel out on the West End.

My son and his friend Allen in front of our car repair business.  They are still good friends to this day.  I have no idea what they have been up to.  Maybe one of their famous camping trips which were really just excuses to drink beer out in the woods.

Okay - enough tripping down memory lane.  Let's talk grocery shopping.  QFC has boneless chuck roast on sale this week for $3.99 a pound which is a pretty good price, so if your family likes meat, stock up.  Once you get it home cut some of it up for stew before you put it in the freezer.  Also, they are running their Buy 4/Save $4 promo, so if you need packaged goods check it out.

Here are my suggestions for this week:

Seattle's Best Coffee - $4.99/12oz bag
Kroger Cottage cheese - $2.50/24 oz
Kroger Spices - 50% off
QFC Butter - $2.50/lb
Simple Truth Cage Free Eggs - $2.50/doz
Marie Callendar's Pot Pies - $2/ea
Boneless Chuck Roast - $3.99/lb
Fresh Whole Cooked Dungeness Crab - $5.99/lb
Jennie-O Ground Turkey - $3.99/20 oz pack
Eggplant - $1.50/ea
Honeycrisp Apples - $1.88/lb
Organic Anjou Pears - $1.79/lb
Tomatoes on the Vine - $1.99/lb
Colored Bell Peppers - $1.50/ea
English Cucumbers - $1.50/ea


Now you know how Miss MoneyPenny is all about getting a flu shot and I still think that.  But there is a little problem this year with the virus.  It took a left turn and mutated or something scientific so our vaccines are not as effective.  From what I understand it is only about 60 percent effective but will still offer some protection if you do get the flu.  In other words, you won't get as sick as if you hadn't had the shot.  So I'm still recommending that you get your flu shot because getting less sick is a good thing.  Don't you agree??

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 12/3

How did your Thanksgiving go??  And wasn't it hot that day??  It was so warm ( in the high 60s) that we had the door open while we were eating.  Then this happened on Friday night and it is still so cold that my backyard is still white, although it is starting to warm up.  This morning it was a tropical 21 degrees but it is still a full time job keeping the hummingbird feeders changed out because they freeze up so fast.

I used the cooking bag method for my turkey and it turned out better than I could have hoped.  The white meat was so flavorful and juicy that no one ate the dark meat.  Usually that is the first to go because the white meat is so dry nobody wants to try and choke it down.

I did discover that getting a greased up turkey into the cooking bag was really a two person job when I almost dropped the slippery devil on the floor trying to get it in the bag.  But that was the only problem that I ran into.  The directions on the box said that for my 11 pound bird it should take 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours and that was right on the money.  We then left it on the counter for an hour wrapped tightly with aluminum foil and covered with two thick towels.  It was still hot when we uncovered it to get the drippings for gravy.

Of course, I took all the bones and skin and made turkey broth jelly in my big oval crock pot.  I wonder if breaking up the bones somehow turns the broth into jelly.  Anyway, I made another one of Rachael Ray's soups with it.  This one is a lentil soup with sausage and kale and it is very good.  I followed the recipe except I used sweet Italian sausage instead of hot.  You can find the recipe here:

This is what it looks like:

Okay - let's look at the ad for this week.  QFC is running their Buy 4/Save $4 so if there is anything in packaged goods that you need, check it out.

Here are my suggestions this week:

Dave's Killer Bread - $3.99/loaf
Kroger Brown Sugar - $2/2lb bag
Kroger Spices - 50% off
Seattle's Best Coffee - $4.99/12oz bag
Rosarita Refried Beans - $1/can
Nancy's Yogurt - $2/qt
Marie Callendar's Pot Pies - $2/ea
Boneless Chuck Roast - $4.99/lb
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast - BOGO
Foster Farms Ground Turkey - $3.99/20oz
Fresh Dover Sole Fillets - $6.99/lb
Kroger Pasta - $1/ea
Anjou, Bosc or Red Pears - $1.29/lb
White Mushrooms - $1.99/8oz
Junami Apples - $1.49/lb
Large Navel Oranges - $ .69/lb
Medium Hass Avocados - $ .99/ea

I also took some leftover turkey and made the Pad Thai recipe that I posted last time and it turned out really good.  I followed the recipe except that I doubled the veggies and added a half pound of sliced mushrooms that were on Manager's Special.  My QFC does not carry fresh bean sprouts due to too much ecoli (this from a produce clerk) so I used canned.  I rinsed them well in cold water and they worked out okay.  Instead of adding the carrots, sprouts, mushrooms, and scallions at the end, I stir fried them with the onion.  And instead of grating the carrots I cut them up into little matchsticks.

This is the final product and, by the way, the sauce is a winner:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Small Business Saturday

Are you ready for Thanksgiving??  I am.  Usually the Bradster and I go down to my son and daughter-in-law's for holidays but this year I'm cookin' because they are coming here.  Including what the Bradster and Miss PeggyRae are bringing we are gonna have a feast.

I've been taking a hint from my mom and trying to do as much ahead as possible.  Yesterday I made up my herb butter for the turkey.  I used fresh thyme and sage (from my garden), lemon zest, and lots of cracked pepper and salt.  I need it to be very flavorful because I'm gonna rub it all over the turkey before I put it in the cooking bag.

I hesitated to show this picture of my rolls because it shows how incredibly filthy my oven is due to melted cheese on toast.  My appliance guy told me that if I want my stove to last do not use the self-cleaning feature.  And, bless him, he said just scrape out the burned stuff and nothing else.  I've taken him at his word.  My KitchenAid stove is getting close to 25 years but sometimes the oven does let out a little smoke.

I had to try one of the rolls to make sure they were edible and they were.  This is a Parker House Roll recipe from my breadmaker book and it is a winner.  You just throw everything into the breadmaker, including an egg, and turn the thing on.  It mixes, kneads, and does the first rise for you.  You then take the beautiful dough and divide it up and make rolls.  It rises again until double in a warm place covered with a clean towel.  Then bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  Another trick from Mom was to paint the hot tops with butter.

When totally cool I wrapped in heavy foil and froze them.  I take them out the morning of to thaw.  It just takes a few minutes in the oven while the turkey is being carved to heat them up.  Outstanding with gobs of butter.  It is Thanksgiving, after all.

I took advantage of the turkey deal at QFC and bought an 11 pounder.  It has been in my fridge since Sunday and is still rock hard.  According to the formula (for every 5 pounds, allow 24 hours) it should be thawed by this evening.  My old fridge (also pushing 25 years) runs pretty cold but I suspect that by Thursday I should have a thawed bird.

Okay - let's talk about Small Business Saturday.  Now you know that Miss MoneyPenny does not do Black Friday because it is just too crazy.  Back in the late 90s Miss MaggieMae and I almost got into a fist fight with some rotten teenagers who came in the wrong way and took our parking spot that we had been looking forever for.  I still can't believe that I didn't flatten their tires.

Anyway, I do support SBS.  My whole family has been about owning small businesses, including my son and both husbands.  I'm one of those people who believe that small business is the backbone of our economy and if you want to get tough and build character try opening a small business.  That being said I still love Costco.

One of the things that I'm gonna do on Saturday is get my hair cut and toes done at my local beauty shop.  From there I could stop by Chimacum Corners and pick up some local produce.  I could also stop at Hadlock Building Supply and Garden Center which is one of my very favorite stores.  Then I could grab a pizza from Ferino's on my way home.  To cap it off I could hit the 4:30 showing at The Rose of the new Stephen Hawking movie, The Theory of Everything.

So you can see how easy it is to support local small businesses.  And it is kind of neat that they know your name and greet you when you walk in.  You are not gonna get that at Target or Walmart.

I was watching Melissa d'Arabian yesterday and she had a good idea for using up turkey leftovers.  This is her recipe and I'm gonna give it a try:

Turkey Pad Thai

  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 limes, 1 juiced and 1 cut into wedges for serving
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded or cubed cooked turkey
  • 8 ounces linguini, broken in half
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 3 scallions, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
To make the sauce: In a bowl, pour the boiling water over the brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and sriracha and stir. Place the leftover turkey in the pad Thai sauce and let it absorb the flavors while prepping the rest of the dish. Next, prepare the pasta: cook the linguine one minute less than the manufacturer's directions. Drain, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok or large saute pan over high heat until very hot, almost smoking. Add the onions and stir fry 1 minute. Add the garlic and stir. Then add the eggs and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Add the linguini and turkey with sauce and cook, stirring for a few minutes. Remove from heat and toss in grated carrot, peanuts, cilantro, bean sprouts and scallion. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 11/19

This precious little guy is Coopy and he is with his mommy, Miss CutiePie.  Hard to believe that he has gotten so big and handsome.  You can see what a charmer he is.  Christmas at the CutiePie's will never be the same.

I'm gonna get right with the ad for this week because it is a biggie.  As predicted QFC has their turkey on sale for $ .69 a pound but of course there is a catch.  Always with the catch trying to get more money out of our wallets.  The deal is you have to spend $30 in additional groceries to get that price and that does not include the turkey.  I guess they don't want us to swoop down and get all their turkeys and go buy our other stuff cheaper at Costco.  Whatever.

Here are my suggestions for this week:

Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Cubes - $3/12-16oz
Gold Medal Flour - $2.50/5lb
Kroger Granulated Sugar - $1.99/4lb
Kroger Spices - $2/ea
Kroger Evaporated Milk - $1.25/12oz can
Starbucks Coffee - $5.99/12oz (must buy 3 to get that price - sheesh!!)
Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup - $1/can
Kroger Broth - $ .50/14oz can
Libby's Pumpkin - $1.99/15oz can
Swanson Broth - $2/qt
Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce - 3 for $5/14oz can
Cool Whip - $1/8oz frozen
Kroger Sour Cream - $1.50/16oz
Philadelphia Cream Cheese - 3 for $5/8oz bar
Simple Truth Cage Free Eggs - $2.40/doz
Tillamook Cheese - $5.99/2lb
Kroger Pie Shells - $2/2ct frozen
Pillsbury Pie Crusts - $2.50/2ct refrigerated
Cook's Ham $1.49/lb
Fresh Cooked Dungeness Crab - $5.99/lb
Fresh NW Natural Turkey Breast - $2.69/lb
Private Selection Turkey - $ .69/lb with $30 purchase
Asparagus - $2.99/lb
Broccoli Crowns or Cauliflower - $ .99/lb
Celery - $ .69/lb
Green Beans or Brussel Sprouts - $1.99/lb
Organic Hard Squash - $ .99/lb
Sweet Potatoes or Yams - $ .99/lb

I told you that it was a big list.  There are several things on the list that most likely have coupons, so if you use them, now is the time.  Also go to QFC online and download your digital coupons.  If you are a baker stock up on flour, spices, etc.  They may not be on sale when it is time for Christmas baking so why take the chance??

I know, I know.  You guys are getting sick of pictures of my homemade broth but I want to make sure that I drill into you how easy and cheap it is to make.  This is my jellied broth before I skimmed the fat off.  You can't get that kind of richness in a can.

I usually hit Costco twice a month and each time I pick up one of their rotisserie chickens for $5.  They are almost twice as big as QFC chickens and better tasting, in my opinion.

When I've taken the meat off the bones I throw all the bones, skin, and any drippings into my crock pot.  I usually break up the chicken carcass so it fits because I'm gonna add an onion (cut in quarters with the skin), a couple carrots, a couple ribs celery, a sliced lemon, a few peppercorns, salt, and a big bay leaf.  Sometimes I add fresh thyme and sage from my garden.  Then fill to about an inch below the top of your pot and turn it to low.  I let it go all day and night.  I then strain it and cool it before dividing it up into freezer containers.

Now tell me - is that stock in the box this rich looking??  And was it practically free??  If you make a lot of soups, stews, etc. this is the way to go.  Trust me on this.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Miss MoneyPenny Talks Turkey Again

Isn't it wonderful what cold fall temps do to the colors of what is left in the garden??  This sedum is called "Autumn Joy" and it certainly is.  The flowers start out green in early summer and continue down the pinkish color chart to this gorgeous magenta.  If I remember correctly Miss Judith gave me my first sedums and I have shared them with other gardeners that need a perfect spot of beauty in their garden.  They are very easy to grow and only require a pinch (prune in June by at least a third) to keep them from getting the floppsies.

Okay - let's talk turkey.  Lucky for me my son the plumber cooks Thanksgiving at their house.  Unlucky for me because I don't have leftovers but that is easily remedied by roasting up a turkey breast.

I'm assuming, and I could be wrong, but I think that QFC will be putting turkey on sale this coming week.  If they aren't on sale until next week there would not be enough time to thaw your bird.  I've done a little research and have come up with this formula for safely thawing your turkey in the fridge:

For every five pounds - allow 24 hours thawing time

So for a 20 pound bird (20/5=4) it would be four days.  Just to be safe I would start the thaw on Sunday.  A thawed bird is safe for at least two days in the fridge.

Miss MoneyPenny used to be famous for her dry turkey until a very sweet lady who used to volunteer at the library told me her secret and I have never looked back.

Yep - a cooking bag.  These things are genius and so easy to use.  All that you do is shake a tablespoon of flour in the bag.  Place it in a roasting pan.  I then add celery and onions.  This is a good place to use your homemade herbed butters to slather the turkey over and under the skin and all around and then place it in the bag and tie it up.  Cut six slits in the top of the bag and tuck the ends.  Roast at 350 as per the chart that comes with the bag.  Totally easy peasy.

When the turkey is done carefully remove and pour out all the juices for your gravy.  I add this to the giblets that I've been simmering on the stovetop.  My son takes everything from under the turkey including the veggies and zips them up in the food proccessor for a base for his gravy.  I've never had such good dark and full of flavor.

To stuff or not to stuff - that is the question.  I say no and the government backs me up on this but if you can get your stuffing to 165 on your meat thermometer (of course, your turkey will be like the one in the movie Christmas Vacation)...rock yourself out.

That being said I make crazy good stuffing and my sister has taken it to new heights by adding fried oysters.  Here is what we do (remember we are talking holiday cooking here):

1.  Melt one cube of butter in a large saute pan.

2.  Add chopped onion and celery and cook until translucent.

3.  To stuffing mix add beaten eggs (4 to 6) and lots of poultry seasoning.

4.  Mix everything together wetting as needed with turkey or chicken stock.

5.  If using fried oysters (flour, egg, cracker crumbs) layer with the stuffing and bake (350) until done
     and crispy on top.

The Bradster and his brother the Dougster went on a European trip and he brought me back this beautiful scarf from Venice.  This picture does not do it justice but it is Cashmere and is wide enough to be a shawl.  I was going to iron it but I'm afraid I might scorch it so I'm gonna just wrap it around my neck and body heat will take care of it.  It is so fine that you could probably get it through a ring.


Don't forget the hummers and the other birdies.  During this cold snap I have awakened to the poor little things trying to get at the frozen feeder.  I have two feeders so my remedy is to switch out the frozen one for the thawed one.  I set the frozen one in my laundry sink to thaw.

My recipe for hummingbird liquid is one cup of sugar to four cups of water.  I boil one cup and add the sugar, then add to the rest of the water.  This way it is not so hot and you can use it right away.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 11/12

Was it cold at your house this morning??  When I got up at 7:00 this morning it was 19 degrees!!  Now that is getting down there, don't ya think??  The first thing that came to mind was that I hadn't unhooked the outside hoses yet.  Actually, I've never done that but last year it caught up to me with a geyser the first time I turned on the hose last spring.  How embarrassing to have to listen to my son, the plumber, lecture me about good home ownership while he was fixing it.  This from a kid who you could smell his bedroom from the front door when he was a teenager.  Sheesh!!

So, with that in mind, I bundled up and headed out with pliers in hand only to be turned back.  I couldn't get the darned things to budge so to cover my back I sent a text to my son asking him to do it for me when he comes up next time.  That way, if it happens again I'll be covered because he didn't get up here to take care of it, so it would be is fault.  Smart, huh??

When I was out the other day hacking, I mean pruning my forsythia because it was laying all over the yard after the wind storm, I noticed how beautiful the hydrangea was.  I meant to take a picture but forgot.  When I went out this morning the above picture is what I saw.  You snooze, you lose.  I was also going to take a shot of my ex beautiful begonia girl but couldn't bare it.  It is shocking what a hard freeze will do to your garden and pots.

This is Izzy.  She has been at the shelter for months and nobody would take her home because she had been a feral cat and did not want anyone to hold her.  Of course, my sister the big softie, decided that she would be very happy at her office building, so she adopted her.  Izzy loves her new digs and while she doesn't want you to hold her is happy to have lots of petting and lovin'.

Okay - let's look at the ad for this week which is a carryover from last week.  What I'm gonna do this week is take advantage of the Buy 10/Save $5 promo.  When I was there last week I was surprised to see the vast amount of items with this tag.  I am particularly interested in the canned tomatoes that come out to 49 cents a can, as well as canned beef broth.  I make lots of chicken broth but never any beef.  I tried it once but it turned out kind of gray looking and gross.

I've been making soup lately and I've decided on Rachael Ray's Lentil and Sausage Soup for my next adventure.  I have lentils left over from our Indian dinner so I can use them up.  I've been filling my freezer with soups, stew, and even a couple stuffed pepper meals.  It is so handy to have real food available when there hasn't been any cooking done for the day.  I just dump a frozen lump of stew into a heavy bottomed pan and let it simmer on very low for a couple hours.  Yummy!!

Another cat picture.  I'm really not a cat lady.  This morning I opened the front door for DC.  She insists on going out every morning before retiring to her chair.  This morning she headed out and then came to a screaming stop.  She then turned around and was just a blur as she headed for her chair.  Too cold for the kitty.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 11/5

I love barberries.  They come in so many different colors and are pretty maintenance free.  This one is a lime green in the summer and changes to this gorgeous mix of fall colors.  Notice the red berries.  The birds certainly enjoy them.  Notice also all the fir needles in my beds.  They are everywhere and not just in the flower beds but in my house, too.  Every wind storm brings more of them.  I wonder what my gutters look like...hmm.

Anybody who knows Miss MoneyPenny knows that she is addicted to cooking shows.  I mean where real people cook real food, not those competitions where everyone is rushing around madly and sweating like crazy into the food.  I mean cooks like Rachael Ray, Ina Garten, and Melissa d'Arabian who cook real food that is fresh and healthy, that anybody could make at home and not break the bank.

Melissa d'Arabian has a show called Ten Dollar Dinners where she makes a meal, usually complete with desert, that you could even serve to company - all for $10.  Recently she made a broccoli and cauliflower salad that looked pretty tasty so I tried it.

Since my garden is no longer producing I actually have to go out and buy my veggies and am shocked at the price.  I've noticed that broccoli and cauliflower go on sale a lot and are usually paired together (not this week, though).  When I saw this recipe I thought this is something that I could keep in the fridge for a few days and eat off of it - only adding the crisp bacon when I dish it up.  I'm here to tell you that this is good stuff!!  This is her recipe:

  • Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 slices bacon, cut in small pieces, cooked to crisp
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Shock the onions in an ice water bath for 10 minutes to temper the sharp flavor, and pat dry.
Place the bacon, broccoli, cauliflower and onions in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, vinegar and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking to make an emulsion. Mix in the mayonnaise and seafood seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss.
I don't know what is so special about this pink cat bed but they all love it.  Poppy, the Boston Terror, grabs it from under the cat and hauls it all over the house and I've seen all of my critters in it at one time or another.  I wondered why Suzy hadn't come to bed.  When I went out to find her she was looking pretty guilty like I had caught her at something.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 10/29

Check out my new enameled cast iron pot!!  I mentioned in an earlier post that my old one from the 80s was not big enough so I jumped on the sale at Macy's.  Who knew that these things sold for $149.99??  Anyway with the sale and my $20 off coupon I ended up paying $54.99 which is a savings of $95.  I also ended up with a new fleece jacket and five Bali brassieres for $100 so I had a good day at Macy's.  If you are patient, keep track of your Macy's coupons, and watch the sales you can save a lot over retail.

Are you ready for Halloween??  I'm not a big fan of this holiday but I still bought a giant Costco sized bag of treats yesterday for $15 rather than spend a small fortune at QFC.  On our way home we got caught on the bridge.  We decided to try out the candy while we were waiting.  Good thing we were only stuck for about 10 minutes.  After that I decided that the best place to store the candy was the car.  No need to even bring it in until the goblins get here.

Okay - let's look at the ad for this week.  To be honest it is not very exciting but there are a couple things to mention.  Ground turkey is on for $3.99 a pound which would make a yummy pot of turkey chili if you are having people over for Halloween.  If it is just you and your sweetie you could make an elegant meal with a couple of Cornish game hens at $3 a piece.  My sister makes this killer dish with game hens.  Maybe she will share the recipe.

Here are my suggestions for this week:

Spice Islands Spices - 50% off
Peet's Coffee - $6.99/12oz or 10ct K-Cups
Kroger Cottage Cheese - $1.50/16oz
QFC Large Eggs - $2.50/18ct
Tyson Cornish Game Hens - $3/ea
Kroger Frozen Vegetables - $1/10-12oz bag
Farmland Pork Rib or Loin Chops - BOGO
Foster Farms Ground Turkey - $3.99/lb
Pears - $ .99/lb
Fuji or Braeburn Apples - $ .99/lb
Colored Bell Peppers - $1.50/ea
Organic Grape Tomatoes - $2.99/10oz

I also want to mention that if you have been watching the sales and managing your pantry you would have all of the ingredients for chili on hand.  All you have to buy is the ground turkey, and frankly, nobody would know that it is not ground beef by the time you get done adding beans, tomatoes, peppers, and lots of spices.

Last summer I bought this very soft king sized blanket at Costco.  I thought that it would look nice folded up on the end of my bed.  As you can see and I don't know how she does it but somehow Poppy flips that thing around and around and drags it up to the eyelet pillows.  Then she makes a cocoon and there she stays - all nice and warm.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cooking Rachael's Mulligatawny Soup and Green Raita

This is the last of anything to eat from my garden, except for the chard.  I needed onions for my soup but decided that once I got out to the garden I might as well harvest the whole shooting match.  As you can see there are peppers, Walla Wallas, shallots, spuds and carrots in the pile.  I will really miss going out to the garden and deciding what's for dinner but it will all happen again next spring.

Okay - I made the Mulligatawny Soup and the Green Raita.  I wasn't that impressed.  Maybe it was
because I had Miss Jenny's very excellent chicken curry recently and this soup is basically a chicken curry soup served with a spoon of rice and raita to garnish.  Don't get me wrong here.  It was good but needed much more in the way of spices.  If I were making it again I would add a couple tablespoons of curry powder and maybe more ginger than she called for.

The good thing that came out of this exercise is that I actually for the first time in my life cooked good rice.  Normally I just boil rice like pasta, then drain it and I'm good to go.  I decided to try the directions on the package using a heavy small dutch oven and it turned out perfect.  I think that the heavy bottom of the pot is the secret because I've always burned the rice.

Even though I was disappointed in the Mulligatawny Soup I will be trying more of Rachael Ray's soup recipes because that Butternut Sausage soup was way over the top delicious...maybe something that the Soup Nazi might make.  I had to find this clip from Seinfeld where Elaine had so much trouble getting a bowl of soup from him and you can watch it here.

There are few sounds as sickening as your glass coffee pot hitting the sink just right during morning dishes.  Not only are you not gonna have coffee tomorrow morning but you gotta dig the glass pieces out of the soap suds.

I have been using one of those free Gevalia coffee makers that I got about ten years ago after agreeing to buy their coffee for about six months.  It has been a wonderful coffee maker.  I decided to go on EBay and see if I could get a replacement.  Man are they expensive.  You could get a whole new setup from Ebay cheaper that the replacement.  I went to Gevalia but they want $16.99 plus $7.00 shipping.

So I dug around in my cupboards looking for one of those cone things that you put on your coffee cup and then pour water over the grounds.  The picture below is what I found:

I do not recognize this coffee maker.  There are no bells and whistles and, of all things, it is white!!  I would never buy white because it shows every little coffee drip.  The only thing that I can think of is that one of the assortment of men who have tried and failed to live with me left it here.  It works great so I'm gonna continue keeping it until somebody asks for it back.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 10/22

Check out this unreal picture that my sister took while she was hiking the Grand Canyon a couple of weeks ago.  Doesn't it look like it should go on an expensive calender??  Even though this place is gorgeous you couldn't pay me to hike there.  What about snakes!!??

My whole life I've had an over the top fear of snakes and spend a lot of time watching for them when I'm out in the great outdoors.  I was even looking for them when the Bradster and I were up at Sol Duc last month.  My favorite ex-husband used to assure me that there were no poisonous snakes on the Olympic Peninsula when we were out for a hike but...he used to assure me of lots of things and we know how that went.

I've been working on getting the MoneyPenny household ready for winter and I'm almost there.  My car has been serviced, my heat pump also, I've gotten my flu shot, the gutters have been cleaned out, my deck furniture cleaned and stored, and I've got flannel sheets on my bed.  I'm in the process of putting my gardens to bed and getting the leaves raked for compost.

I do all these things to avoid spending my money on expensive repairs and replacements and getting sick.  That would not be stretching a buck.  Miss MoneyPenny's motto is "Maintenance not repair".

As far as the garden is concerned I've learned that if I spread mulch and steer manure and then cover the raised beds with cardboard or my assortment of old rugs they are ready to go in the spring.  The best part is there are hardly any weeds to pull and what there are (all yellow looking and sickly) come up easily.  When it is time to plant I just remove the rug from the section I want to work on and leave the rest until I'm ready for them.  Genius!!

Okay - let's look at the ad and see if we can find some real food for a decent price.  I was at QFC last week picking up some bulk sausage and ground beef for meatloaf.  I was shocked at the price!!  I asked my cute friendly butcher what was going on.  He told me that the prices on meat are skyrocketing and even they can't believe it.  At that point my sister-in-law, Miss Denise, who also works in the meat department told me that the lamb that they just got in was $3 a pound more than last week.  I guess that means we'd better be very careful how we buy our meat.

Here are my suggestions for this week:

Napolean Olive Oil - $4.99/16.9oz
Seattle's Best Coffee - $4.99/12oz
Del Monte Vegetables - $1/can
Bush's Beans - $1/can
Hunt's Tomatoes - $1/can
Ocean Spray Craisins - $1/5oz (for those of us who hate raisins)
Starkist Chunk Light Tuna - $1/can
Fage Greek Yogurt - $1/7oz
Kroger Cottage Cheese - $1.50/16oz
Kroger Sour Cream - $1.50/16oz (note the higher sale price)
Chuck Roast - $3.99/lb
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast -BOGO
Fresh Dover Sole Fillets - $6.99/lb
Pork Shoulder Roast - $2.49/lb (remember when we could get it for $ .99/lb??)
Asparagus - $2.49/lb
Colored Bell Peppers - $1.50/ea (used to be $1/ea)
Red, Green or Black Seedless Grapes - $1.68/lb
Ghiradelli Baking Chips - $2.69/12oz

Since it looks like we are finally leaving our summery fall days behind us I've been on a soup kick.  I've been looking for hardy soups that don't break the bank but are still delicious.  Last week I made Rachael Ray's Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage soup and it was crazy good and made lots.  I'm thinking that my next soup will be her Mulligatawny Soup which uses chicken and lots of Indian type spices.  If I find that it is wonderful I will share.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cooking Rachael's Soup

Hands down, in my opinion, Rachael Ray makes the best soups and stews, or stoups, as she calls them.  They always look so good when she makes them so I thought that I would give it a shot.

I've been looking for a recipe that uses that cut up butternut squash that Costco sells.  Now you know that there is no way Miss MoneyPenny is gonna cut up a hard squash because that would most likely be a quick trip to the emergency room.  The best I can do is those tasty Delicatas because they are small and sometimes that can get dicey.

 I came upon Rach's (we are bffs) recipe called Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Alborio Rice Soup and that one sounded really good.  Of course, I did change it up a bit by using orzo pasta instead of the rice because I didn't have it.  As you can see from the above photo it turned out crazy good.

The first thing I did was brown a pound of bulk Italian sweet sausage in a large Dutch oven.  Mine was barely big enough so that gives me the excuse I've been needing to buy a new one.  Then add a chopped onion and three cloves of chopped garlic (all from my garden).

After they have sweated out for about five minutes add a bay leaf, two pounds of cut up squash, and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Stir in the six cups of chicken stock and two cups of half & half and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and add a bunch of cut up Tuscan kale.  Simmer until until done.

When the soup had cooked down some, I took my masher to the squash making it thick and yummy, leaving some chunks for texture.  I cooked 3/4 cup of orzo separately and added it to the soup.

At serving, Rach suggested a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of Parmesan.  I didn't do the olive oil but the Parmesan really took the soup to perfection.

Here are the ingredients:

2 T olive oil
1 pound bulk Italian Sweet sausage with fennel (couldn't find it so I went with just sweet)
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large bay leaf
2 pounds butternut or pumpkin squash, cut up into 3/4 inch dice
Salt, pepper, nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups half & half
1 small bunch Tuscan kale (any kale will work or maybe even chard)
3/4 Arborio rice or orzo pasta
Parmesan for topping


Several years ago, Miss Know-It-All told me that WD-40 should be in every woman's tool kit, so I bought some and it has languished up in the cupboard.  Until Saturday morning.  I got up and turned on the coffee, let the dogs and cat out, and let them all back in again.  I fed, watered and medicated everybody, grabbed my cup of coffee and sat in my chair to watch the news.

Now my LazyBoy came about in the early 90s when my favorite ex husband was racing stock cars.  He usually kept his winnings to put back into the car or buy beer for his pit crew but one night he gave it to me and I bought the recliner.  And it is the most comfortable chair in the world and holds myself and all my critters at one time but that morning the footrest got stuck at half mast and wouldn't budge.

People that know Miss MoneyPenny know that she did not get the fixit gene...just like my dad,  I immediately break out into sweat and start cussing when something needs me to fix it.

I decided that maybe something had come loose underneath, so to the chorus of all three dogs barking at me, I turned the chair over and looked.  All I could see were bells and whistles and springs that meant nothing to me but everything seemed to be intact.  Then I was hit with a stroke of genius.  I grabbed my can of WD-40, hoping that it would still spray, and gave everything that even looked like it could move a good squirt.  The whole house smelled like WD-40 but I sat on the couch and had my coffee.

After my coffee I felt almost human and brave enough to turn the chair upright.  Guess what??  It worked like a charm.  After years of fighting that stiff handle on my chair I can now raise the footrest up or let it down with one finger.  Who knew!!

Miss Know-It-All always know best.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 10/15

I grabbed my camera yesterday afternoon when the sun peaked out and got this picture of my red maple all ablaze and looking gorgeous.  My son, the plumber, gave this to me for my birthday the first year I lived here.  At that time it was a twig in a five gallon bucket and I worried that it wouldn't make it because the ground was so hard and cold when we planted it at the end of the year.  But 19 years later you can see that it did just fine.  My fence is six feet so you can see how big it got.

It is hard to see but there is a rake in front of the tree.  I go out every day and rake leaves until there are no more.  Leaves are like gold to me because they are the "brown" in your compost.  I just throw them in all three of my composters and they break down fine because the leaves are fairly small but if you have larger ones you can run them over with your lawnmower.  I also mulch with them and get great results.

I mentioned earlier that my besties and me were putting together an Indian meal.  This is a great way to try out new foods and recipes that you might not be familiar with.  Miss Jenny made a true chicken curry with all the wonderful spices and there wasn't a drop left.  Miss Know-It-All took care of the rice and made the above desert.  Now - I want you to know that she knows her deserts but this one definitely needs more work.

Miss CutiePie provided the big kitchen, the naan bread, and the cute baby.  I brought the cucumber raita (sp?), dal, and my peach chutney.  The cucumber dish and dal were pretty good but I'm glad I brought along some storebought chutney.  I thought that the chutney was expensive to make and not near as good as storebought but most of it got eaten.  Good friends are wonderful aren't they??

I didn't get a QFC ad this week (probably because of the holiday) so I got this list off the website.  I hope it is accurate.  If you are gearing up for holiday baking check out the ad because there are lots of deals on ingredients.  Kroger spices are 50% off  and canned pumpkin is $1 a can.  A 4 pound bag of sugar is $2.99 and I will buy some for my hummers.  You do know that this area has hummingbirds all year long??  I found out a couple of years ago when I saw them hovering around the seed feeders.

Here are my suggestions for this week:

Gold Medal Flour - $2.79/5lb
Kroger Sugar - $2.99/4lb
Kroger Spices - 50% off
Starbucks Coffee - $6.99/12oz bag or 10/ct
Kroger Pumpkin - $1/15oz can
Chobani Greek Yogurt - $1/5.3oz
Fage Greek Yogurt - $1/7oz
Kroger Sour Cream - $1.50/16oz
Kroger Cottage Cheese - $1.50/16oz
QFC Large Eggs - $1.99/doz
Boneless Pork Tenderloin - $2.99/lb
Fresh Wild-Caught Cooked Dungeness Crab - $6.99/lb
Pears - $ .99/lb
Greens - $1.50/bunch
Simple Truth Organic Grape Tomatoes - $2.99/10oz

This handsome little guy is Cooper Lee.  It seems like we waited a long time for him to get here.  Mr. BlueEyes sat at the table and interacted with us.  He would smile and look us in the eye and listen to everything that was being said.  He is a very calm and relaxed happy baby.  His mommy and daddy are doing good work here.