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Thursday, October 21, 2010

If you're in the market for a Crock pot, buy a Rival

I have a Rival crockpot that I bought in April 2009.  The handle on the lid has broken on it twice; whether or not it was user-error can't be confirmed....

I love my crockpot with a love that might be classified as an obsession.  If my apartment were on fire and Troy and Jack were in the car, I would grab my crockpot and my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I told you it was an obsessive love.

I emailed the company recently to ask if they could send a replacement handle for the lid.  Currently we use a butter knife to lift the lid while grabbing the hot glass with an oven mitt.  Not a sustainable cooking practice.

I received an email today that they are shipping me a brand spanking new crockpot valued at $60.  I bought mine on sale for $30.

That my friends, is customer service!  So for that, I give major kudos to Rival brand products.

DIY fruit fly death chamber

My mother-in-law once told me she thinks that fruit companies spray fruit fly larva on their fruit, because where the hell else does it come from?!  So true.  We've been inundated by the pesky little buggers over the last month.

A friend of a friend does cancer research using fruit flies.  She told me that fruit flies are addicted to the yeast and sugars in fruits.  Yeast and sugar, hmmm...

Behold the ultimate fruit fly death chamber:


Take half of a bottle of cheap beer - what you do with the other half is up to you - and put it near your fruit basket.  Add a few drops of dish soap, and sit back and wait. 

If you get a light colored bottle, you can watch the carnage, a'la Running Man,  the 1987 genius flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (and featuring a brave and brilliant performance from Jesse "the body" Ventura).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mmmm, homemade graham crackers

Or "graham Jackers" as they're now known in our house. 



This was the 2nd attempt at graham crackers, and I'm happy to say this time it was successful.  I used another recipe a few months ago and they turned out like hard honey-flavored hockey pucks.

The recipe comes from this month's issue of Parents.  My notes below in red.

A-B-C Grahams

Ingredients
2-1/2 cup sall-purpose flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 Tbs.toasted wheat germ (you can find it in the fridge section at the market.  Probably not essential to the recipe, but added a nice flavor.  Put in a hot frying pan for a few minutes to "toast" it.  It comes in probably a 8 oz bag, so try to find other recipes that use it to maximize spending $2 for a small bag.  Great in smoothies, granola, etc.).
1 tsp.baking soda
1/2 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp.ground cinnamon (I added a lot more.  We love cinnamon in this house!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut up (I would add maybe 2 more TBLSP)
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbs.milk
1 tsp.vanilla (Probably did about 3.  See comment on cinnamon)
2 Tbs.granulated sugar (just realize I forgot to do this.  Wasn't needed though)

Directions
1. Heat oven to 350°F. In a large food processor fitted with a metal blade or by hand, mix flour, brown sugar, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Cover and process until well combined. Add butter (use the tines of a fork if mixing by hand). Cover and process until fine crumbs form. Add honey, milk, and vanilla. Cover and process until mixture starts to hold together. If necessary, place in a bowl and work with your hands until dough is smooth. You're going to need to do this.  Divide in half and flatten each half to a disk.

2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each half of dough  use the heel of your hand to smoosh the dough flat in to a 9 x 8-inch rectangle. Cut each into 18 (3 x 1-1/3-inch) rectangles. Arrange them 1 apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Using the flat end of a skewer (I used our kitchen thermometer), poke an A-B-C design in each rectangle. Sprinkle each lightly with granulated sugar.

3. Bake about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire racks, immediately re-poke A-B-C design if necessary, and let cool completely.  If you can wait that long.

For anything that Jack eats a lot of, I do my best to find a recipe to produce them at home myself.  I know they're better for him, and they're a hell of a lot cheaper as well.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another entry for the "Poverty Cookbook"

Polish Cabbage Noodles from allrecipes.com.  I have to admit I was cruising recipes and the name sounded so disgusting that I was forced to click on it purely out of morbid curiosity.  It was so highly reviewed that I just had to try it.  Holy crap, it's really good.  And REALLY cheap.  I've copied the recipe below, and have added notes in red.  This is the perfect meal for a cool fall evening.

Ingredients

1 medium head shredded cabbage (I used about 1/3-1/2 of an organic cabbage)
2 red onions, cut into strips (I used half of a yellow onion)
1/2 cup butter
1 (16 ounce) package wide egg noodles (used 2/3 of a 12 oz package of organic whole wheat noodles)
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
I added garlic salt as well
try it first with the seasoning, and if you like spicy, sprinkle some hot sauce on top.

Directions
1.Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.
2.Meanwhile, heat butter or margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter a bit. Saute cabbage and onions until tender.
3.Drain pasta, and return to the pot. Add cabbage and onion mixture to the noodles, and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

We served it with some grilled organic Italian chicken sausage that I got on sale for $2!  And it made a ton, so it was lunch the next day as well.

Cost breakdown:
Organic head of cabbage - $1
Bag of whole wheat egg noodles - $1.79, but I only used 2/3 of it, so $1.34
Organic chicken sausage - $2
1 stick of organic butter (2 lbs from Costco for $6.89) - $.86
1/2 of organic onion 4 lb bag for $2.50, so  ~ $.35
Total cost for 3 people for 2 meals = $5.55

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Spicy Fried tofu with veggies and rice

We've been making a lot of rice dishes lately.  Rice is cheap, good for you, and can be very flexible.  The below recipe is my favorite in a series of dishes that I've labeled "poverty food".

Spicy Fried Tofu with veggies and rice
1) Start your rice in a pot or a rice cooker. I'm lazy and use the rice cooker
2) Meanwhile, drain and press your tofu and cut in to small squares
3) Splash (sorry, I don't measure) some soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil in a bowl. Let the tofu marinate for about 5 min.
4) Meanwhile, heat a frying pan on medium high heat. Add a few TBLSP of oil suitable for frying
5) Put tofu squares in the pan and fry it on 1 side without stirring for probably 8 minutes. Then flip. The entire square won't fry, but you'll get enough crispy edges to taste good.
6) In a large frying pan or wok heated to medium/medium-high, add soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, black bean garlic sauce, and some chicken broth. Add sliced veggies. We do carrots, celery, green onions, and sugar pea pods. Cook with lid on for about 10-15 min.
7) Top rice with veggie mixture and some liquid from the pan. Then top with tofu and diced peanuts. We like spicy and love to throw some sambal oolek (basically thai garlic chili sauce) on top.

Enjoy!
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