Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - Sale at Safeway

My dad has always been a romantic guy. He would bring home flowers for my mom on Valentines day, Mother's day, Labor day...pretty much any holiday. He always adored my mom and loved cooking for her. When I was four or five years old, I remember a really special dinner my dad made for us. I don't remember if it was a holiday. I don't remember what we ate. But I remember that it was a special evening and our dinner was lit by candle light. The whole dinner just felt warm and exciting because we never ate in candle light. The meal ended and my parents allowed my brother and I to blow out one candle each. They were those tall ones that was popular during the 80s. I was so excited and stood on my tippy toes so that I could reach the right height to blow out the candles. I took a deep breath and filled my little lungs with air. My fat cheeks were round as I formed my mouth to blow out when... it happened. My face suddenly stung with heat. I screamed and backed away from the table. I didn't know what happened. I was hurt and I was confused. My mom calmed me down, cleaned my face and my bowl-cut hair, and explained. My brother blew his candle out first and blew so hard that the hot wax flew across the table and hit me. I can't remember what my brother's reaction was but knowing him (even now) he was probably snickering. And I don't think I ever got to blow out my candle.

Here are this week's Safeway specials:

Ground Beef 80% Lean - $0.99 a lb
Whole Chicken - $0.99 a lb
Tomatoes - $0.77 a lb
Braeburn Apples - $0.99 a lb
Nectarines - $0.77 a lb
Pork Loin Back Ribs - $3.99 a lb
Baby Carrots - $1.00 for a 1 lb bag
Wish Bone Salad Dressing - $0.99 a bottle

Monday, August 24, 2009

YES! Organic Market Opens in Petworth

Last Wednesday at 10 a.m., YES! Organic Market opened a new store in Petworth. This is great news for me because I will be moving into the Petworth area next week. Also, I've grown pretty fond of the store on 14th and V street for their cheap wines and decently priced organic fruit. (I'm really hoping the one in Petworth sells wines too.) Honestly, I've heard really bad stuff about the Petworth Safeway so knowing that there will be a decent market nearby is comforting.

Here are some deals I found:

Organic Bananas - $0.89 per lb
Cantaloupe - $1.59 each (GREAT DEAL)
Blue Crab Lump Meat - $8.99 per lb
Kettle Chips - $2 a bag
Boca Burger - $3.89

Prince of Petworth posted this announcement of YES! Organic market opening and readers have already posted their review of the new market in the comments section.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

BLT with Arugula and Basil and Avocado

Something wonderful happened at work last week. That something wonderful was a great sandwich. My co-workers and I have been bringing turkey bacon to work and cooking it up in the microwave so that we can have inexpensive BLTs for lunch. Last Thursday, I had the bread, I had the turkey bacon, but I was going to depend on the salad bar at Organics to Go to take care of the rest of my BLT needs. co-worker Lucy showed up at my desk with a bag of the most beautiful and perfectly ripe tomatoes. She asked me to pass them out to the lunch crew since she was heading out for a business lunch. Perfect. Bacon tomato sandwiches are delish. Luckily, my co-worker Catherine had some mayonnaise in the fridge. A bacon tomato sandwich is not a good sandwich without mayo or melted cheese. As I started to toast my bread and assemble my sandwich in the kitchen, Angie was next to me putting her sandwich together and started throwing stuff my way: romaine lettuce, arugula, and basil. I tossed some farm fresh tomatoes her way. She reminded me to salt and pepper my tomatoes. "The trick to a good BLT is salt and pepper." Done. It was delicious. Angie and I sat across from each other and could not stop grinning and commenting at what an amazing sandwich we were eating. The tomato was juicy and sweet. The basil gave it a nice fresh fragrance. The arugula gave it a nice peppery bite. The sandwich was a great BLT that was bumped up a big notch.

I wanted to confirm that this sandwich was as delicious as I remembered it to be so I had my friends Christine and Jason over for dinner. Real bacon was involved in this dinner. I assembled it just as I had that day at work. It was accompanied by some potato chips. Jason and Christine took a bite and I waited. SCORE!

Ingredients purchased at Harris Teeter and U Best and 14th and U Farmers Market

Sliced bread - $1.12 per loaf (after sale and coupon)
Bacon - $3.49 per package
Tomatoes - $1.50
Avocado - $1.79 each
Arugula - $3 for 1/4 pound
Romaine Lettuce - $2.99 per package
Mayo - Free from previous purchase
Basil - $2.99 per package
Salt - Free from previous purchase
Pepper - Free from previous purchase

Toast bread and cook bacon. Spread mayo on each slice of bread. Slice tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cut avocados into slices. Assemble sandwiches with ingredients. I placed the romaine lettuce, arugula, basil, and avocado on one side and then placed the bacon and tomatoes on the other. Bring two sides together and sliced sandwich in half. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009 - Items on Sale at Harris Teeter

Here are some specials at Harris Teeter this week:

Rib Steak - $4.99 per lb
Scallops (Wild Caught) - $8.99 per lb
Shoulder Lamb Chops - $3.97 per lb
Cucumbers - 2 for $1
Green Beans - $1.49 per lb
Hot House Tomatoes - $1.99 per lb
Valencia Oranges - 2 for $1
Rasberries - Buy 1 Get 1 (pint)
Strawberries - Buy 1 Get 1 (lb)
Annie's Macaroni and Cheese - Buy 1 Get 1 box
Bertolli's Pasta Sauce - Buy 1 Get 1 jar

Please note that each Harris Teeter location may have different specials than listed above. Check out the weekly specials at a location near you here. Also, you can have weekly specials from Harris Teeter sent directly to your email box by signing up for their E-VIC service.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009 - Items on Sale at Giant

Does Giant's Organic line's name make you think of feminine hygiene products? "Nature's Promise...."

Unfortunately this week, there is nothing on sale that was very exciting for me. you go:

Boneless Butterfly Leg of Lamb - $4.99
Nature's Promise Organic Salad Mix - $3.49 a bag
Amy's Organic Soups - $2 each (great to bring for lunch)
White Seedless Grapes - $0.99 a lb
Chicken Breasts - Buy one Get one
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese - 2 for $1 (eating this makes me feel like a kid again.)

Please check to see the specials at your local Giant Supermarket.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Paprika Roast Chicken with Sweet Onion

On a Sunday afternoon, after a lovely day at the pool, Anna and I headed to Whole Foods to buy groceries to make dinner for her man friend and his bandmates. We got:

14 chicken thighs - $5.50
red potatoes - $2.99
French baguette - $2.29
Brie - $5.88
Tomatoes - $2
Mini Toasts - $2.99

We started them off with some brie topped with the peach honey we made on our canning day. (recipe will be posted soon.)

We then had them test out a recipe Anna found on Amatuer Gourmet. Its simply toasted bread that is rubbed with garlic, tomatoes, and is drizzled with olive oil and salted. It tastes like really good garlic bread with a hint of tomatoes. Rubbing the garlic on the toasted bread really makes the bread pop with flavor.

Then we started on the dinner. We roasted potatoes and made two types of chicken. We made an herb-lemon roasted chicken that I made for dinner with my friend Jason (recipe will be posted soon.) And we also made this chicken recipe I found in the February 2009 issue of Gourmet Magazine. I was hesitant to use this recipe because it called for cinnamon and I have not marinated anything with cinnamon before. This turned out fabulous. It roasted at 500 degrees so the skin became very crisp at the edges and you taste the cinnamon but it rounds out the flavor of the chicken, paprika, cayenne, and onions. Its such a simple recipe...its kind of ridiculous. Most importantly, it was The Hint approved.

Paprika Roasted Chicken with Sweet Onions
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine February 2009

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
7 chicken thighs
1 sweet onion

Preheat oven to 500 degrees with rack in upper third of oven. Mix oil with spices, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper in a large bowl, then add chicken and onion, tossing to coat. Arrange chicken, skin up, ad onions in a 3-qt shallow baking dish. Bake until chicken is just cooked through and skin is golden, about 30 minutes. Skim any fat from pan juices in dish. Serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2009 - Sale at Safeway

Here are some deals at Safeway this week:

Assorted Pork Chops - $0.99 per lb
Top Sirloin Steak - $2.99 per lb
Red, Green, and Romaine Lettuce - $0.99 per lb
Whole Seedless Watermelon - $2.99 each
Large Raw Shrimp - $4.99 per lb
Pork Style Country Ribs - $1.99 per lb
Italian Squash and Yellow Squash - $0.99 per lb
Green Beans - $1.99 per lb

Please note that each Safeway location is different. Please check to see your local specials.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Harris Teeter Triple Coupon Finds

Here are some deals I got during Harris Teeter's Triple Coupon Week:

Bread was $3.99 but on sale for buy one get one free. Coupon was $0.50 off and when tripled =$2.49 for two loaves of bread.

Two containers of Lysol cleaning wipes were $6.98 but on sale for Buy one Get one Free which made it $3.49 for two. Coupon was for $0.75 off and when tripled = $1.24 for the two containers.

Dental Floss was $1.59 on sale. Coupon was $0.50 off and tripled = $0.09 for dental floss. The toothbrush was on sale for $1.74. Coupon was $0.55 and tripled = $0.09 for a toothbrush.

Brownie boxes were on sale for 2 for $4.00. Coupon was $0.75 off and tripled = $1.75 for two boxes of brownie mix.

Healthy Balance Juice was on sale for $2.50. Coupon was for $.50 off and tripled = $1.00 for on big bottle of juice.

Cheez-It was on sale for $3.49 a box. Coupon was for $0.75 off and tripled = $1.24 a box.

I got some other things during my trip but felt kind of weird taking pictures of all my groceries in front of my roommate Nina and her sister Sonia. And I got produce (I promise Mom, I'm eating my fruit and vegetables!)

It was such a high. I felt all light and accomplished. Then Stephanie decided to gchat me that she just went shopping at Harris Teeter and that the cashier gave her $10 off her bill. Apparently there was a coupon in the paper for $10 off your grocery bill and you can get it if you ask the cashier for it. I COULD HAVE GOTTEN $10 OFF IN ADDITION TO MY TRIPLE COUPON SAVINGS?!?!? My high was gone and then I was just bitter.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Non Food Post - Rate My Shampoo

My preferred shampoo and conditioner lately is Aveda's Rosemary Mint line. I love the scent and how my hairs feels light and clean afterwards. An 8.5 oz bottle is $9.50 which is kind of a ridiculous amount of money for something like shampoo (in my opinion.) Especially when I can use that money towards more dinner parties that make me much happier than minty smelling hair. While strolling the aisles of Whole Foods, I happened upon the above. The scent is nice, the price is right...but will it do the job? If you have tried this stuff, please let me know. I'll be writing my review after a few weeks of using it.

More info

Giant - This Week's Specials

Over the weekend, my friends and I volunteered to cook and serve lunch at Bethany Center. We kept the meal pretty simple with salad, bread, spaghetti with meat or veggie sauce, and some brownies. The unfortunate thing was that we all were late and in the end, I felt like I was a contestant in the show Chopped. I was slicing and dicing at record speed. I browned the beef and sauteed the onions and garlic. Everything was thrown together as fast as possible and as well as possible so that we could be sure we got lunch made for the ladies by noon. We were a little late but everything turn out fine. Better than fine. The meat sauce was GREAT. I took a bite and could not believe how tasty the sauce was. It tasted rich like it had been stewed for hours. I thought that maybe it was the ground beef I chose but it didn't make sense. It was more than the beef. Then I realized the my friend Christine got Ragu spaghetti sauce. It was strange because another friend of mine had just mentioned to me how much her man friend loves that sauce. I've been turning my nose at Ragu for years because I thought it was an inferior brand. And now it is all I can think about. All I can think about is getting a jar of Ragu, getting some ground beef, and replicating what I made at Bethany Center.

Giant has two jars on sale for $5.

Here are some other deals at Giant:

London Broil and Beef Chuck Steak - $1.99 per lb
Chicken Split Breast - $0.99 per lb
Green Cabbage - $0.59 per lb
Green or Yellow Squash - $1.29 per lb
Peaches and Nectarines - $0.99 per lb
Sweet Red Peppers - $1 per lb
Klennex Tissue - $1 per box

Please check to see the specials at your local Giant Supermarket.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting Back to Your Roots While Gnawing on Split Pig Knuckles

You have read the title of this post so you have been warned. This isn't for those with weak stomachs. This recipe includes shrimp paste, pig hocks, and fish sauce. It may not sound pretty but for us who have grown up on this soup, its pretty delicious. At least we omitted the congealed pig's blood this time.

Living in a family full of foodies, it is no wonder that my mind rarely strays from the subject of food. My cousin Stephanie is a bigger foodie than I can ever be. No one emails me more articles, more recipes, or invites me out to eat more than Stephanie. There have been days when I have cursed her name because she sent me the most delicious article about sushi and every cell in my body starts craving sushi... but I'm just stuck my cubicle...with no sushi. Then she invites me out to eat something fabulous and all is well again.

For the longest time, we have talked about how much we needed to get some of our family member's recipes written down and saved. Her mom once showed me how to make Vietnamese ginger chicken and chicken Pho and I remember the process but never converted her cooking to an actual recipe. So when Stephanie proposed that her mom show us how to cook Bun Bo Hue on a random Sunday, this was going to be our first chance to really get something documented. We approached it with all seriousness. We each brought a note pad and pen. I brought my laptop. We took turns taking pictures. We watched, we listened, we chopped, and it was delicious. The broth tasted meaty and was fragrant from the lemongrass. The noodles were perfectly cooked and the meat was tender. My chopsticks filled my spoon with some noodles, some meat, some broth and I slurped it all up. It was great. It was great to eat and it was great to learn that a complicated sounding soup was not so complicated.

Bun Bo Hue

Co-Written: Stephanie
Recipe by: my Aunt Yen

Serving: 8 people

Two packages of Bun Bo Hue rice noodles
Pork Hock - four hocks
3 pounds of beef shanks - fat trimmed off, keep tendon intact
3 pounds split pig feet or pig knuckles
Six stalks of lemongrass
2 shallots or one medium size yellow onion - thinly sliced
8 Bun Bo Hue bouillon cubes
1/4 cup of fish sauce
4 teaspoon size rocks of sugar
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoon of finely minced shrimp paste
3 tablespoon of paprika or Korean chili powder

1. Soak the two packages of rice noodles in cold water overnight.

2. Fill a 15 quart pot a quarter way with water and add two tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil.

3. Rinse beef shank, pig hocks, and pig knuckles thoroughly with cold water and use some salt to scrub them down. Rinse meat once again and add meat to pot of boiling water.

4. Allow meat to sit in water until pot almost boils (parboiling the meat). The impurities from the meat will start to float to the top of the water and the water will get cloudy. Do not over boil the meat at this point because you do not want to lose too much flavor from the meat.
Using tongs, take meat out of pot and set aside in a bowl. Throw away all the water from the pot and thoroughly clean pot.

5. Refill pot 3/4 the way with water and add two tablespoons of salt. Place pot back on stove and turn on heat to "high" and bring water to a boil.

6. In a sauté pan, heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil to medium heat. Place 3/4 of thinly sliced onion into pan and sauté for 3 minutes or until transparent. Add paprika and IMMEDIATELY remove from heat and add rest of sliced onions. Add contents of pan into pot of water.
***Note - it is very important that pan is removed from heat so that the chili does not burn. The soup will appear cloudy and the soup will be bitter if the chili is burned. This can ruin the entire pot of soup if done incorrectly.

7. Cut lemongrass into 3 inch pieces. Discard top 1/2 of lemongrass (you only want to use moist part of the stalk.) Using back end of a cleaver, lightly pound stalks to bruise them and then add them to the broth. This will help release the flavor when it is added to the broth.

8. Add bowl of parboiled meat into pot of water and begin adding seasonings: Fish sauce, shrimp paste, salt (approx. 1 tbsp), bouillon cubes, and rock sugar. Bring pot to a boil. Simmer broth for an hour an a half. Skim any fat that rises to the top of the pot. The beef will be well-done. The pork hock and the split knuckles need to be tender. The flesh should spring back when you poke it. If it feels tough, they will need to be boiled for a longer period of time. Once the beef has cooled, slice the beef into 1/4 inch pieces. For the hocks, meat will need to be removed from the bone and cut into bite sized pieces. Knuckles will be served as is in the bowl. For the broth, this is where you are just going to have to cook the old school way. Taste and add seasonings as needed. Some like a little more sugar, some like a little more shrimp paste. Just remember that you can season your individual bowl of soup so this step is just to make sure that the flavors have come together the best way possible.

9. Boil noodles for five minutes, drain, rinse with cold water. Instructions on the package says to boil it for longer but soaking the noodles in cold water lets you cook the noodles for a shorter amount of time. My aunt found this out from Bun Bo Hue restaurant owners who say that when you cook the noodles as the package recommends, it never fully cooks the noodle and you end up with a slightly tough middle. Soaking the noodles overnight allows the water time to thoroughly soak the noodle.

10. Assemble bowls of soup by adding the noodles and some pieces of meat to each bowl. If necessary, reheat the noodles and meat in the microwave. Add the broth to the bowls.

11. Garnish
Mix together:
1/2 a red onion – sliced paper thin
1/2 a cup of chopped cilantro
1/2 a cup of chopped Rau Ram (Vietnamese Coriander)
1/2 a cup of thinly sliced Green onions (use white and light green parts only)

Top bowl with as much of the garnish as you would like. We also added bean sprouts and squeezed some lime juice to taste.

Unfortunately, I can't give you a cost breakdown because I wasn't the one to go shopping for these ingredients but I can tell you that for the amount of food that you end up with, the cost is minimal. If I were to approximate, the cost of the entire pot would be around the range of $25 or less. Your best option is to buy your ingredients at an Asian market where the prices are usually much lower than most generic markets. Also, you will not likely find finely minced shrimp paste at your local Harris Teeter.

Triple Coupon Week at Harris Teeter

Did I mention that Triple Coupon Week started yesterday and ends August 18th?

***Thrifty DC Cook smiling from ear to ear***

Here is the info.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - Sale at Safeway

My brother is taking a big test (MCAT) this week. My mom used to tell me that my great-aunt used to cook a big pot of Pho for her kids when they had a big test and those kids did really well on tests. Looking through this week's "Back to School" specials, it concerned me to see so much processed food advertised. Like pudding snack packs, chips, and Easy Macs. Are these "good for your brain" food? I looked it up and found this article. Here are some deals on food that might be good for your brain (you should eat these things big brother if you are reading this!):

Salmon Fillets (Farm Raised) - $5.99 per lb
Cornish Game Hen - $0.99 per lb
Whole Grain Arnold Sandwich Bread - Buy one Get one Free
Broccoli Crowns - $0.77 per lb
Large Hot House Tomatoes - $0.99 per lb
Green Seedless Grapes - $0.88 per lb
Cantaloupe - $1.88 each
Blueberries - $2.50 per pint
Green Beans - $1.49 per lb
Zucchini or Yellow Squash - $1.49 per lb

This might be a fun weekend to play with Cornish Game Hens. Here are some recipes to try out:
Grandma's Roasted Cornish Game Hen
Flattened Cornish Game Hen with Garlic-Citrus Marinade
Cornish Game Hen with Corn-Bread Stuffing

Advice from Julia Child

"I do think the way to a full and healthy life is to adopt the sensible system of 'small helpings, no seconds, no snacking, and a little bit of everything.' Above all - have a good time!" ~ Julia Child

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Julie and Julia Made Me Do It

If you have seen Julie and Julia, you will understand why I needed to make and eat bruschetta tonight. The sound of the crunchy bread and the image of the tomatoes was beautifully filmed. Bruschetta was also the perfect dish to make on hot days like this.

Ingredients purchased at Whole Foods

Mini French Baguette - $1.29 each
Campari Tomatoes - $3.99 a box
Olive oil - $3.49 for 16.5 oz bottle
Sea Salt - free from previous purchase
Pepper - free from previous purchase
Basil - $2.99 a pack
Garlic - $0.50 a bulb
Lemon - $0.50 each

Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil into a glass bowl. Mince one clove of garlic and place into oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Clean 8 campari tomatoes and cut into 3/4 inch pieces. Chiffonade ten large leaves of basil. Add tomatoes and basil to bowl. Mix all together and refridgerate for 1/2 an hour. Slice baguette into 1/2 inch slices. Toast in convention oven at 300 for 8 minutes. Alow to cool slightly and then run a clove of garlic against the bread. Top slice of bread with tomato mixture. Drizzle with olive oil, spritz with some lemon juice, and lightly salt. Enjoy.

This dish cost me less than $10 to make and served three people. You can serve a lot more people if you buy a bigger baguette. I have some tomatoes and lots of basil and garlic left.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Julie and Julia

When I first moved to DC in 2005, one of the first things I wanted to see was Julia Child's Kitchen exhibit at the Smithsonian. During that time, I worked from 3pm to 11pm so I had the mornings to myself. One morning I got up early, got ready for work, and made my way to the American History Museum. I stood on the side and peered into the little model kitchen and just gazed at every little detail. It was an amazing kitchen. You could be a billionaire and have all the money in the world and you couldn't build a kitchen like that. A kitchen like that requires brains and a lot of heart. It amazed me that her husband thought to trace around the pans so that it was easier to remember where everything went. A lot of wonderful things have been written about their love and I hope its all true. Here is my favorite picture of the couple.

And yes, I loved the movie.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009 - Items on Sale at Giant

Partied a little hard last night for Jazmin's birthday party. Please excuse any spelling or grammatical errors. Tequila = my head hurts.

Here are this week's specials at Giant:

Strawberries - $1.66 per pound
Blueberries - $1.66 per pint
Boneless Chicken Breasts - $1.79 per lb
Pork Spareribs - $1.99 per lb
Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Buy one get one Free
Barilla Pasta Sauce - $2 a jar
Dole Classic Iceberg Salad - $1.29 per bag
Rice Krispies Cereal - $2 a box
Giant Grape Tomatoes - Buy one Get one Free

Please check to see the specials at your local Giant Supermarket.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - Sale at Safeway

With this week's specials, I'd like to share some amazing news I heard from a good friend of mine. OLIVIA AND MIKE ARE ENGAGED!!!! Since she may not have had the chance to tell some of her friends personally, I'd like to just announce that ______ JUST GOT ENGAGED to ________. (Blanks will be filled in soon.) They are both lovely people and I am so happy for them. I'm also looking forward to cooking them a delicious meal to celebrate this great news!

Moving on to business, here are this week's Safeway specials:

New York Strip Steak - $4.99 per lb
Boneless Whole Pork Loin - $1.99 per lb
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast - $1.99 per lb
93% Lean Ground Beef - $2.49 per lb
Haagen Dazs Ice Cream - $.249 per lb (I heart Haagen Dazs Ice Cream)
Green Beans - $0.99 per lb
Tomatoes on a Vine - $2.49 per lb
Vidalia Onions - $1.29 per lb
Peaches and Nectarines - $0.99 per lb

***Pick up the weekly specials paper in front of the store. They have a load of good coupons in them. Here are some deals you can get from the coupons:

Barilla Pasta - $0.69 each
Dozen Eggs - $0.99 each
Butter - $1.49 each
Wesson Cooking Oil - $2.99 per 48 oz bottle
Spring Mix or Spinach - $2.99 per 16oz box

Balducci's is Coming to DC?

News of this gourmet grocery store possibly coming to DC is giving me goosebumps! See this Penn Quarter Living post.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Herb Saver

My herbs not only die in my garden but they also die in my fridge. My refridgerator seems to dehydrate my vegetables, fruit, and herbs overnight. The herbs always get it the worst though. It is very frustrating to spend $2.99 on herbs and then wake up the next morning to find them wilted and useless. It is just as frustrating if you get your herbs from your friends for free. I've considered spending money on herb savers such as this one but then I took a closer look at these kinds of things and realized that those herb savers are just tall plastic containers that hold a little bit of water and that limit the amount of air that goes into them. Instead of dropping $30, I saved one of my take-out containers, poured an inch of water into it, cut the ends of some cilantro I bought, dropped the cilantro into the container, placed the cap on top of the container, poked some holes into the cap using a steak knife, and placed it in my fridge. The next day I checked it and it worked like a charm. The leaves were hydrated, green, and so fresh smelling. I gave it another three days...still beautiful. After a week, it was still fresh but the water had browned so I rinsed out the water and put it back in. The cilantro was still good after three weeks! I kept checking it, rinsing out the water, and even cut the ends after a week and a half and the cilantro stayed fresh and beautiful! Problem solved, it was so easy and FREE!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Use Your Friends For Their Herbs

There was once a point in my life when I thought I could maintain an herb garden. I had visions of pots around my front yard or my back balcony full of basil (sweet and Thai), mint, cilantro, thyme, and parsley. I had dreams of going to my pots, clipping basil leaves, and never having to spend $2.99 for a sorry little plastic container of half wilted basil ever again. I even made a trip to Home Depot and got soil, gardening tools, and large pots. But my herbs wilted and withered away. My dream garden would never be.

Lucky for me, my friend Jazmin has a green thumb and has created a beautiful herb garden with almost every herb that I would need for cooking (except for some Asian ones that I might need to get her to grow for me next spring.) She is also very willing to feed my addiction to cooking. She supplied me with some thyme last week and it just happened to be the same week that both Safeway and Giant had whole chicken on sale for $0.99 a pound. I had roast chicken on my mind. In particular, this Barefoot Contessa recipe. I've made this recipe before and it is good.

1 (4-pound) roasting chicken - $2.29 per pound at Whole Foods
Sea salt -Free from previous purchase
Freshly ground black pepper - Free from previous purchase
1 large bunch fresh thyme - Free - gift from Jazmin
4 lemons - $0.69 each
3 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise - $2.99 per pound
2 tablespoons butter, melted - Free from previous purchase
1/2 pound sliced bacon - Free from previous purchase
1 cup white wine - Free - Brought for the dinner by Monali
1/2 cup chicken stock - $1.39 per can

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, reserving enough thyme to garnish the chicken dish, 1 lemon, halved, and 2 halves of the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Cut 2 of the lemons in quarters and scatter the quarters and remaining garlic around the chicken. Lay the bacon slices over the chicken to cover.

Roast the chicken for 1 hour. Remove the bacon slices from the top of the chicken and set aside. Continue roasting the chicken for an additional 1/2 hour, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the bottom of the pan. Add the wine and chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until reduced by half. Slice the chicken on a platter. Garnish the chicken platter with the bacon slices, roasted garlic, reserved thyme and 1 lemon, sliced. Serve with the gravy.

For Christine and Monali who came over for dinner, I had to make some delicious sides. Especially for Christine, I made some roasted red potatoes. They were $2.99 per bag. I halved (or quartered) them, tossed them in some olive oil and butter, added half a head of garlic cloves, seasoned, and baked them at 425F for 45 minutes. We ate them with some sour cream. I also made some Shells and Cheese and added bits of the bacon that was roasted with the chicken into them. I topped off the shells with some shavings of an aged Percino Romano I found in the random cheese bin at Whole Foods. ( I love that cheese bin because you get to try out so many different cheeses for so little money. The hunk I got was only $1.08 and a perfectly good amount for our dinner.)

Monali brought a delicious salad which brought some beautiful color to our otherwise bland looking meal. It may look bland but that chicken was freaking amazing. The lemon and thyme gave the chicken a nice, fresh citrus flavor and the garlic perfectly infused the meat (not as intense as when I mince the garlic and stuff it under the skin though I like doing that too.)

Overall, the meal cost about $21.00 total. It fed three people for dinner and served for a great lunch the next day. This week, Giant has organic whole chicken for $1.59 per lb.

So the lesson of this post is to make lots of friends. Some of them might help you find high paying jobs. Some of them might help you carry some boxes when you move. Some of them can get you high quality herbs...for free.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Save Money at Whole Foods

If I were to rank the markets that I enjoy shopping at in DC, Whole Foods would probably rank second after Trader Joes. (H-Mart could be number one if they were located in DC.) Trader Joes was the first market that introduced me to gourmet products and they have great prices on cheeses and produce. That is why they are ranked first. They also sell Asti sparkling wine for $5.99 and I do like my sweet sparkling wines. But Whole Foods is a much prettier market to shop in and I appreciate that they carry a lot of organic and earth/people friendly products. Here is some advice I got from Whole Deals, Whole Food's magazine that has coupons and cooking advice:

  • "Cut your costs in half. If you need only half a cabbage, sandwich, chunk of cheese, fish fillet, loaf of fresh bread, etc., we're happy to provide just the half you need." REALLY? I've wasted many loaves of bread because I just couldn't finish an entire loaf. And frankly, I NEVER need more than half a cabbage for recipes. This works for me.
  • You can get volume discounts if you buy a whole case of or more of a certain item. This is good to check out for wine lovers. If you are buying enough for a big party, asking for the cost of a case may be worth it.
  • Store Deals - You can sign up for the e-newsletter and get bi-weekly updates store specials here.
And this is just my tip. I like their bulk section for things like cranberries or raisins when I need them for recipes. A whole box of cranberries is too much to buy when I only need 1/2 a cup for a recipe so its worth it to me to go buy those items at Whole Foods.