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 gravy...so 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.