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Archive for July, 2011

Food Fee Fussing

July 31st, 2011 at 08:04 pm

A week or so ago I posted about certain grocery prices on the rise and many responded you are seeing the same thing.

Last night as we watched Suze Orman, she predicted in 2012 that things might get worse. She said if gas prices continue to rise, groceries will as well, as much as 14-40%! She said that not only does the transporting of food go up, but petroleum products are used for make plastic containers for things that we buy. I never thought of that, but she is right.

As I'm fixing stuff, I'm thinking, am I going to be doing this because I want to save money or because I have to save money?

Suze Orman suggested that people stay conservative for 2012 because she thinks things could get tight. I read in the paper yesterday that the experts are now saying the recession was far worse than they originally thought. No kidding. One of our local food pantries is giving out 100-120 boxes of food each day.

So, do you think Suze is right on grocery prices going up as much as 40%? If she is, it is going to hurt the economy even more because housing and food are necessary items and people will be using their money to buy the necessities.

In the Kitchen...

July 30th, 2011 at 02:26 pm

We are delighted that we are getting tomatoes from dh's garden. I had requested he plant more than one cherry tomato plant because I wanted to make tomato sauce...I made 3 batches last summer from one plant, and I was thinking I could more if we had two...

Anyway, I made my first batch and it looks yummy! I'm looking forward to serving it this week over some pasta. My husband's big tomatoes are starting to come on and we are getting enough for eating for meals which is wonderful.

We had chicken wings that I baked the other night. We didn't eat them all, so I put them and some celery that was getting a little bedraggled and a bell pepper from dh's garden, and an onion from dh's garden and some of our herbs and made some rich chicken broth. I took it out to the freezer so we have a supply of that. I love having my own -- no preservatives and I control the salt.

With the tomato sauce and the chicken stock, I think I better get busy making some pasta!

You Know It's Hot When...

July 27th, 2011 at 12:44 am

It's still warm here. So, the emails are starting about the heat! OK, I had two different people send this photo to my personal I say, let's start this off and have a contest and say,

"You Know It's Hot When the Ice Cream Truck Melts!"

So, what do you say?

Homemade Supper

July 27th, 2011 at 12:33 am

We just finished eating a bit of ago and cleaned up. I was trying to tally the cost of the meal. I have always kind of played at doing this, to see if it was an expensive one or a reasonable one, but ever since the restaurant owner claimed no one could eat at home for less than $10 each, I do it more frequently.

Our supper was pork chops, noodles, bread, sliced tomatoes, corn on the cob, cottage cheese, and saute'd mushrooms. The meat, of course, was the most expensive item, but I believe when I bought it, they were having a sale -- I had taken it out of the freezer.

The noodles were homemade -- I made them with basil. I told my husband that it is unbelieveable how much noodles cost that are considered homemade and I made a big batch for less than a $1. The basil was from our garden. The bread was homemade -- it was less than a $1 for the loaf and we didn't eat a lot of it. The tomatoes are from my husband's garden and the corn was a gift from a friend we had over for supper last week. He brought a dozen ears and we didn't use them all. The mushrooms were leftover from something I had bought it for so I just went ahead and used them. I think I spent about $4.00 each for a very hearty meal.

A decent meal and cost effective as well...can't beat that!

Grocery prices????

July 23rd, 2011 at 02:19 pm

Yesterday we made our weekly trek to Aldi. I had my list for the items I wanted. We then pick up the items we can't get at another store. Since the heat is so bad, we decided to go to Aldi on one day and the other store today.

I noticed that some items at Aldi have risen since last week. Sugar went up. Portabella mushrooms went up over 40 cents. Butter went up a dime. Eggs had gone up a dime about three weeks ago. Lemons went up 40 cents. This isn't the complete list, but goodness, some of these are large hikes! I realize that some of the fresh produce is often priced on the growing and harvesting season, but eggs and butter?

Anyone else see grocery prices on the rise? Do you think this is a foretaste of the inflation to come?

Grocery Shopping and the Budget

July 21st, 2011 at 03:31 pm

Last week CNBC had a program on grocery stores and/or supermarkets. Interviewed were CEO's of large ones such as Whole Foods and also a gal who owned a little mom and pop. It was interesting to hear what each thought of their business.

They talked about research done for the big chains. It said that stores that provide extras seem to bring in people for those things -- recipes, samples, even entertainment. What they also said was the average person shops 3-4 times a week and overspends because they buy things they didn't originally plan to buy.

Well, we all know if one buys unplanned for things, it can blow the budget, but I'm curious, how many times do you shop? I try to do it once a week and usually be the end of the week, my fridge looks what I term "lonely" because it is getting empty. I just hate it if I have to stop and get something I forgot.

Purposeful planning

July 20th, 2011 at 01:57 pm

I've admitted I'm anal. I guess it gets pointed out to me on various occasions, but I am a planner. I like things to work out. Perhaps I'm a control freak, but I just know I like to have a plan.

This has come home to me a few times this summer. We do weekly grocery shopping -- usually a couple of stores. I figure out what's on sale, what I have on hand, and then try to work out a menu for the week's meals. We do eat out, probably more than we should, but I like to have that planned because I want it to be an "social experience" instead of just eating out and not cooking. I also try to eat things that are nutritous...not a lot of fried or junk foods and watch my salt intake.

Well, I think it is causing some problems. We have a couple we go out with every so often. She rarely cooks and they eat out. A lot. A lot of junk food. However, as to planning, they are pretty spontaneous. For example, they contacted us early afternoon and wanted us to go out to eat with them that evening. We already had meat thawing for supper. I guess that makes me an old stick in the mud. I have explained that I usually plan the week's menus by Thursday or Friday night the previous week so I know for what I will purchase.

We ate out last night with a friend. It had been planned last week. We all looked forward to it and it was a lot of fun visiting as well as enjoying the meal. I like to think it was an event.

I think purposeful planning saves us money by shopping for those things I plan to use, hopefully find them on sale, and as well as having a menu so supper isn't a last minute "gotta think of something" ordeal.

So, if I'm anal, I guess it's just a fact of life. I'm sorry I am not spontaneous, but then again, I like to feel I make wise decisions with my money.

A Hot Monday Menu

July 18th, 2011 at 02:39 pm

Another steamy day in Central Illinois! In fact the whole week is supposed to be miserable, with heat warnings from last night until Friday night.

Being the Crockpot Queen (I have 5 in 5 different sizes), I thought this might be a good time to put them to use.

Today it is pork roast cooked with rosemary and thyme. My husband has the herbs growing in our yard so I went out this morning and picked some and pulled an onion to go with it. I picked lettuce this morning and washed it and put it in the fridge. That and the cherry tomatoes and slicing the other tomatoes, it should be a good supper on a hot Monday. I'm going to fix potatoes in another Crockpot. I was looking for different recipes. Here's the one I'm going to use, I think:

Crockpot Sage Potatoes

Cooking spray
6 medium brown potatoes (such as Idaho or Russet), peeled and sliced 1/ 4 inch thick
yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup flour
4 T (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 cups heavy cream or half and half
1 t Kosher salt
t black pepper
1 t dried sage
1 c shredded Greyere cheese
1 c walnut halves

In a 4 quart slow cooker, spray the inside with cooking spray. Put the sliced potatoes and onion in the slow cooker. In a mixing bowl whisk the flour into the melted butter. Add the cream and salt, pepper, and sage to the bowl, mixing well. Pour the cream mixture into the slow cooker and toss with the potatoes and ion. Sprinkle the cheese and walnuts on the top. Cover and cook on high for 3-5 hours or until the potatoes are tender.

I don't have any walnuts so that will be ommitted and I'm going to use a different cheese because I don't have any Greyere and I'm not running to the store to get these. And, I'm using fresh sage because we have that in my husband's garden. I'm a firm believer in using what you have.

I am perusing recipes for other slow cooker meals. I did find one for squirrel. Not being a hunter, I don't think I'll try it, but if you are interested, it is on the site. I realize I try to use what I have on hand, but I'm not sitting in the yard with a ball bat waiting for the squirrel...

Homegrown Tomatoes!

July 16th, 2011 at 07:35 pm

With the recent onset of hot weather, my husband's tomatoes are starting to ripen. We've been blessed with a few cherry tomatoes -- enough for our salads made with his home grown lettuce. But today was the day he could pick his vine ripened regular tomatoes. So far, only two were ready, but we are looking forward to tasting them.

New Savings Goal

July 15th, 2011 at 08:08 pm

Last summer about this time I blogged that I wanted to new stove. Well, this summer it is a new dishwasher. Our dishwasher still works, so there isn't any hurry. Yet I have found that having a savings goal helps me plan plus lets me anticipate.

My husband is a rare breed -- he carries cash and he likes to pay in exact change. As a result he often has lots of change around the house. I noticed the other day when I was dusting, that his change bowl was overflowing and there seemed to be a lot of pennies. I asked him if I could have the pennies and he said sure. Since there were far more pennies than other coins, I thought this could help both of us out.

Last night I sorted through the change and pulled out the pennies -- over $2.30 worth of pennies. I did find two wheat pennies that I saved. They probably aren't worth anything, but they aren't as plentiful so I thought it would be nice to have two of them before they no longer are in circulation. My husband is a Lincoln buff and I found three pennies that had different Lincoln scenes on the back -- minted in 2009 for his 100th birthday, so I saved those three too.

I checked my wallet and had a few pennies and some extra coins so I threw that in the bag to take to the credit union. Our credit union has one of those change things, but you have to have an account for them to use it. I also had a few extra ones. So my dishwasher account is up to $141.73 (I have added to it previously too).

I know the gurus claim we prices haven't been going up, but I have noticed an increase in many items at the grocery store, plus Illinois increased income tax this spring. It is getting harder to save for nonessentials, so it will probably take me longer to save the money for the dishwasher I want.

Yet, that is OK. It gives me more time to think about and wish for it and appreciate it when I do get it.

Creole Crockpot Cooking!

July 14th, 2011 at 03:07 pm

With the recent higher temperatures, it is time to break out the Crockpot!

I am fixing shrimp creole for supper tonight. My recipe is pretty simple.

Shrimp Creole

1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 tablepoon of olive oil or canola oil

2 15 oz cans of stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
cooked rice

Try to chop the celery, onion, zucchini, and pepper about the same size. Saute in olive oil. Add tumeric and garlic near the end so it doesn't burn. Add to Crockpot. Add the stewed tomatoes and sugar and cover; cook on low 6-7 hours. Depending on the size of the shrimp, add the last 30-45 minutes of cooking. I'm using salad shrimp so it won't take long to heat up.

Service over cooked rice.

I will admit I do cut up the stewed tomatoes so they are the same size as the vegetables I chopped, but that's just a personal preference. Other than the shrimp, I had everything else on hand. I'm sure if you wanted to make more for a more servings, you could easily cut up more vegetables and add more tomatoes or tomato sauce. I have doubled the recipe before so I could take part of it to some relatives.

I'm looking forward to a cooler kitchen tonight!

Almost too hot to cook!

July 12th, 2011 at 12:01 am

Here in the Midwest with high dew points and even higher temps, it was miserable today. Just going outside to pick a few leaves of lettuce resulted in a warm sticky feeling and I was only outside a few minutes.

My goal today was to fix something for supper that didn't heat up the kitchen -- or me for that matter!

Fortunately my husband is starting to get cherry tomatoes so that added to the lettuce and a couple of other items already in the fridge made a good salad.

I fixed pork chops on the top of the stove and saute'd mushrooms with them, and then boiled two ears of corn. I made biscuits in the toaster oven. I made a fruit salad with strawberries, blueberries, grapes, bananas and added Greek yogurt and honey -- what a cool dessert.

The other day the owner of a restaurant we go to was telling me that no one can eat at home for less than $10 each. I just smiled because he's the type of guy who thinks he's never wrong...many of our meals are less than $10 total for the two of us! So, I figured eating at home also saved money.

I'm sure glad we ate at's too hot to go anywhere, that's for sure!

Cool and refreshing!

July 10th, 2011 at 08:22 pm

Cool and refreshing is how I would describe the newest dessert I made.

It's an Italian Ice made with Lemon Zinger tea. Very easy:

4 Lemon Zinger Tea Bags
3 cups boiling water
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

Steep the tea bags in the boiling water and sugar for an hour. Take out the bags and refrigerate the tea and sugar mixture for at least 8 hours or overnight. Take out and add the lemon juice.

You can then put in an ice cream freezer for 30 minutes or put in a metal pan and let it freeze hard. It was very refreshing.

I found the recipe in Living Well's diabetic cookbook. I thought it was so clever I am trying it with raspberry tea bags today.

Clean out the fridge dinner or frugal feasting

July 8th, 2011 at 03:06 pm

Ever have one of those nights when you have a lots of odds and ends in the fridge and hate to see it go to waste? Last night was one of those nights at our house.

I have been working through the freezer and trying to use up some of the stuff we've had awhile, and crab cakes was the winner from the freezer roulette.

The fridge had a few different items. We had green beans from the night before, baked beans from lunch a couple of days ago (we had them for two meals before this), lettuce, tomatoes, and part of a red onion, a boiled egg, a small portion of Feta cheese, leftover biscuits, a small portion of cottage cheese, leftover roasted potatoes, leftover fruit salad, an overripe pear, and on the counter...very ripe bananas.

I heated the potatoes in a little olive oil and cut up part of the onion in them. The rest of the onion I used for the salad of lettuce, tomato, Feta cheese,and sliced the egg. I heated up both types of beans, and put the cottage cheese out in a little bowl. I nuked the biscuits.

I cut up the pear and bananas into the fruit salad.

There was ample food and little of it went to waste. I think I did pitch a couple of biscuits. I had made them a couple of days before with some flour, milk, baking powder, and herbs from our garden so I wasn't throwing out big money.

Not a gourmet meal, but full tummies and a cleaner fridge were the result.

I bet we could get people to think leftovers were gourmet undertakings if we could figure out a catchy phrase for it!

Farm Fresh Produce

July 7th, 2011 at 02:49 pm

Yesterday we drove to a town about an hour away to nose around at the shops. On the return trip home, we stopped at a produce stand and bought a melon, green beans, and sweet corn.

It is so exciting to see locally grown produce for sale. Our city has a couple farmer's markets and we often go to them. One, unfortunately has a stand where I think the person isn't really selling locally grown items...I noticed he had the same type of boxes that the grocery stores have to unload the stuff and it seemed to be packed the same way. After seeing this, I decided I would avoid this stand. I think that is misleading.

I like buying locally. I think it is important to support those who live near us. Plus, the food is fresh...not having been shipped for days!

We enjoyed the green beans last night at supper. I snapped them, cooked them with chicken broth and bacon...yum! I look forward to cutting into the melon and having some of that sweet corn too! Ah, the joys of summer cooking!

Happy July 4th USA!

July 4th, 2011 at 02:42 pm

Happy 235th birthday, USA!

I guess for countries, that isn't THAT old, but for a human, it's kind of ancient!

I hope that you are having a great holiday...I guess I should bake a birthday cake, eh?

New Antique Shop in Town

July 2nd, 2011 at 12:46 am

Last weekend the paper had a list of antique shops and there was a new one in town. For me, that's a good thing.

Years ago this same house had been the "China House" and it had hundreds of pieces of dinnerware and China. We went every so often and it was fun looking at all the different dishes. I can't say we ever bought anything, but it was always fun to look. The lady retired and as far as we know, it has been vacant. However, apparently there's a new owner and he has opened. Well, sort of.

His hours are every day and go from about 9 until 4 or 4:30. We get there after 12:30. We notice there are bars on every window and there's bars over the backdoor. Yet, the ones on the back door do have a hinge, but it is closed.

It was a comedy of errors...we get there and it is locked up. The back door has bars over it and I look in and it looks like a store room. We figured maybe you had to walk in the front door and walk around to the street side...there are no steps to the porch to the front door. Hey, I'm all for adventure, but I'm not hopping on the front porch as a pole vaulter!

So, I whip out the cell phone, OK, maybe not whip it out because I, of course, didn't have it on, like usual. So I got it out, waited for it to come on and called the number. Whipping it out certainly has more of a ring to it, doesn't it? I guess I could stretch the truth since it is MY story.

The owner wasn't there. He was off eating lunch but would be back in 20 minutes. We go do something and come back. He's at the door waiting (back door). He had the bar thingy open this time. Good thing because I'm still not pole vaulting. We could barely get in because he doesn't have it organized. There are boxes everywhere. There is a small path, but even it is an obstacle course! What a hoot! He said his helper was in jail. I didn't even ask! I wanted to, but refrained. I can only imagine THAT story.

We talked for a bit and left. I wonder if he will be ready in a month. I will say one thing...I did save money because I couldn't find anything to buy!