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: