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Meat box from Misfits Market
Misfits Market: The Meat Box

The Meat Box from Misfits Market arrived. Come see what I got!

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Hi again, Dear Readers:

I said I was going to do it, and I did–I ordered a box of mostly meat from Misfits Market. BF was rather pleased, and we’ve got a little more stashed in the freezer. In this post, I’ll open the box and show you what I received.

Blast from the Past

The other night, BF went somewhere, and I was flipping channels on the big TV. We actually have access to two, and sometimes three, sets of PBS stations locally. Generally, they have much the same thing. This evening, I happened to catch an old episode of Baking with Julia. Guess who was the guest? None other than Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart With Julia Child On TV

Seriously! Martha with the iconic Julia Child.

Let me point out that this is Martha Stewart from back in the day, like the late 1980s. It’s not the current Martha Stewart that hangs out with Snoop Dogg.

Julia Child herself passed away in 2004. When this was filmed, Julia was all over public television, and Martha Stewart was best known as a caterer in Westport, CT, a few years after her first book, Entertaining.This show was likely filmed around the time of her original Weddings book.

In the show, Martha Bakes a beautiful three-layer wedding cake with apricot filling and a crisp dacquoise center. The wedding cake episode is in two parts because the cake takes quite some time to bake and construct. Martha baked the cake in the first show, along with the dacquoise, and made the buttercream icing. That’s what they’re doing in the picture above. The finishing and decorating with marzipan fruits are completed in the second show. I came in about halfway through the first episode.

I don’t know where to find the recipe she made, but you can see the second half of the show in this video on YouTube. Although there is no wedding cake in my future, it certainly was interesting to watch from an artistic standpoint.

Pets Update

Buddy, the weird little dog, is growing quite quickly. If you don’t believe me, look at this picture from his first day here:

Buddy sleeping on James's chair

Awww. . . .

Now, look at the size of his paw. This picture was taken just a couple of days ago.

Buddy's paw

They’ve doubled in size, like his legs.

He’s learning to bark and frequently has barking fits for no reason. The cat has let Buddy know he’s not the favorite. The pit bull frequently needs more breaks from being around this hyperactive puppy, even though he’s a little bigger than Spencer now. And if we’re not careful, Buddy likes to use the pit bull as a chew toy. Poor thing has teeth marks in a few spots.

And the cat doesn’t care about anything else but himself.

Tab E. Cat sitting in window during the day

Our little Apex Predator.

Speaking Of The Cat

Over the weekend I went shopping in Hammond. I know, it’s just Hammond, but it’s what we’ve got here. I made it to Hobby Lobby first, then to the Target for some provisions I normally buy there.

One thing I prefer to buy at Target is the Fancy Feast cat food for Tab E. Cat, because they have a wider range of flavors for our resident apex predator. The big-name brands aren’t particularly healthy, I’ve found, and even vet’s offices use FF. Except for this past weekend, there wasn’t any:

Nearly empty shelves with little cat food

No Fancy Feast to be found!

And that wasn’t the only food they were out of this time:

Empty cat food shelves in Target

Where is all the cat food?

So, I had to get something else in cans, and Tab E. Cat isn’t liking it much.

Tractor Supply is also experiencing similar shortages, as well as our local Winn-Dixie. I’ve bought some of Tractor Supply’s brand of canned cat food, but even that’s kind of scarce, too. I’ve seen comments on Facebook about shortages of cat food all over the US, and it’s particularly concerning for shelters. Fingers crossed that this will soon resolve and it doesn’t spread too far.

The Meat Box

So this past Saturday, my second order from Misfits Market arrived:

Box from Misfit Market With Meat

It’s here!!

I was a little concerned because the box did not appear to be completely taped shut.

Top of box from Misfits Market

Is it open?

Thankfully, it wasn’t a big deal. I was also concerned because the box didn’t feel cold. This is particularly worrying because I ordered meat in a “cold pack.” But that also was not a big deal. Let me show you why.

Opening it carefully, I saw much the same thing I saw in the previous box:

Open box from Misfits Market with meat in cold pack

Looks like the last box

But that’s not the only cold pack.

Insulation in box

Insulated just like the last one, too

Once I lifted off the cardboard, I saw why it wasn’t a big deal. Inside the box was a Thermal lined foil pouch:

Foil wrapped cold pack

See?

That’s where all the meat was. Much like a mailing envelope, it was sealed shut with a sticky flap:

Sticky flap on envelope

Just like a mailer

Inside were more cold packs keeping the meat cold:

Ice packs surrounding meat

More ice packs!

Two go into this envelope:

Two ice packs inside a thermal cold pack for meat

Like that.

And some of it was still frozen! Once I removed the meat and ice packs, I could see that the package was also insulated:

Cold Pack For Meat

Everything fits nicely

Now we have more ice packs, which we will keep in the big freezer for the occasional power outages. But you can recycle them:

Icepack for meat

You can recycle these, sort of, but they might be worth keeping.

Everything arrived in good shape.

The Other Stuff

Of course, I ordered another bag of sugar snap peas.

Sugar snap peas

They’re SO good!

I washed them, dried them, drizzled on a tiny amount of sesame oil,and sprinkled in a tiny bit of salt. Tossed them around and enjoyed them immensely, because that’s the most delicious way to eat them. If you have black sesame seeds, toss in a few with the oil and salt.

I also ordered a bag of those tiny bell peppers, which are sweet and great for snacking.

Bag of small snacking sweet peppers

They’re delicious!

BF, of course, likes neither of these things.

From the Pantry section, I ordered another bag of Xanthan Gum, which was nearly 50% off:

Bag of Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum

If you’ve baked nonstandard things, you know what this is.

And no, it’s not past its sell-by date, either.

Date on Back of Xanthan Gum bag

See?

Good to know. I use this in some of my alternative baking projects like the ones in the Babycakes books.

The Meats

OK, so, to have a good round of protein, I got some of BF’s favorites—pork chops:

Pack of two pork chops from meat box

Just two, and boneless, too.

Bacon ends, cost, $4.99:

Bacon ends in meat box

These are great to use in recipes, and sometimes when you run out of regular sliced bacon.

Our next stirfry is in the freezer (no, not the dog, that’s sarcasm):

One pound of grass-fed ste beef

A nice bag of frozen veg, and you’ve got dinner.

This is where the meat comes from:

Back of meat package

The company that sells this brand of meat.

Two pounds of grass-fed ground beef, destined for the freezer, but I don’t have a picture of, along with a couple of sirloin steaks:

Grass fed sirloin steak from meat box

Not too big.

Read the next section for more on these. This is the entire contents of the box:

The entire meat box

This was everything I ordered and received.

This was $67. . .I don’t know if it was a bargain or not, but the website said I saved $27.

The Little Steaks

Now, when we get steaks on occasion, they usually look something like this:

Pack of two sirloin steaks

Taken at Target in Hammond on Saturday, March 19, 2022.

But these little grass-fed models are smaller than that:

Two grass-fed sirloin steaks on stovetop

They’re about the size of cupcakes.

These two steaks were $9.99, which I thought was pretty nice. (They’ve since sold out.) Not exactly Texas-sized, are they? But don’t be fooled.

Originally, I intended to make them for dinner on Saturday evening when the package arrived. However, BF’s sister came to town, so there was no cooking that night. I mentioned them to BF last night. After a couple of jokes, he said, “Why don’t you have the little snack-sized steaks for lunch tomorrow?” Really, the packages aren’t that big, so the steaks can’t be terribly large, right?

Until I cut the packages open, unfurled them, and discovered that six ounces of grass-fed sirloin is a good six-ounce steak:

Two six-ounce grass fed sirloin steaks on a pan and OXO rack

Not what you thought, eh?

So, I texted that picture to BF and asked if he’d like to have steak and mashed potatoes for dinner. He was quite happy to see that, and said “yes.”  I stashed them in a food storage dish and put them back into the fridge.

BF was impressed with the meat we got this time. The rest, not so much, but that’s OK. There’s probably going to be another order soon if I can pin him down in front of the laptop to look and see what’s available.

Order As Much As You Want

I should point out that I ordered two sirloin steaks because that’s what I wanted. Remember, this was the first time ordering meat from Misfits Market. In a future shipment, I can order six, if I want that many (assuming they have some.) Stash four in the freezer and keep two in the fridge for dinner. The pork chops are a package of two, so that’s a dinner for us as well, and I can re-order those if I want.

But I could just as easily order more—or less—than that if I wanted. If BF decided he wanted me to stock the freezer a little more, we could order more of the steak, bacon, pork chops, or any of Misfit Market’s chicken selections. Of course, the same rule applies to the $30 minimum for the cold pack, and a $30 minimum overall for the order. This last order was about $67, and I didn’t have any promo codes.

The shipment is totally customizable for the single person all the way to families. For instance, Neighbor E or The GER might order just enough meat and things for a week, whereas someone with a family of four (or more) would probably order a larger amount for a week of meals. It’s what you want, how much of it you want, and paying for it, just like your local grocery store. But with Misfits Market, you’re buying food in a more direct fashion than grocery shopping while helping the supply chain and cutting down on wasted and discarded food.

I’m guessing they’ve done well during the last couple of years.

We’re talking about another box, and we’ll decide on Tuesday if we want to order again, or skip until next week.

Coming Soon To HeatCageKitchen

Well, actually, I don’t know what’s coming up just yet. But I’m working on these things. I have a couple of topics in the pipeline. But of course, I’m always open to researching and discussing anything you’re interested in, too.

If you’re considering ordering from Misfits Market, you can use my promo code: COOKWME-GK3IAXCZOGR for a discount on your first shipment. Just remember that it’s an auto-ship subscription, and you must manually cancel weekly if you don’t want a box.

Meantime, it’s officially spring, and time for me to quit making and wearing sweaters all the time. But Walmart keeps bringing in these incredible cut bundles that are just the right yardage for sweaters. . .I’ll try.

Enjoy!

Carrots and potatoes in the IP
Pot Roast, Instant Pot Style

Pot Roast in the Instant Pot. Yes, it’s possible for dinner tonight. I tried one from a fellow blogger and it’s pretty good.


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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

So, piggybacking on the last post about the Instant Pot, I’m reporting on a recipe that a), I actually made, and b) BF actually liked.

If you ask him about what he’d like for dinner, the answer is usually “meat & ‘taters.” Just like that. I’ve made many variations on the theme, but this time, it was strict. Pot roast with carrots and potatoes, and one surprise ingredient. Amazingly, for a change, he actually liked it.

Lots to tell, so let’s get started.

RIP Alvin Calhoun

A couple of years ago I was fortunate to be able to introduce you to this nice man when we went to Mr. Earl’s Awesome New Year’s Party:

Alvin Calhoun

The man, the myth, the legend!

Alvin Calhoun made some awesome barbecue, and you would not be looking for sauce, either. (Read the previous post to find out what I mean by that.)

We found out a few days ago that Mr. Calhoun had advanced-stage prostate cancer. He passed away the very next day. His children announced it on Facebook.

BF had tried to contact Mr. Calhoun this week, because he was going to bring some motor parts over to him to work on. That’s when BF found out about it. We had no idea he was ill, nor that he was in ICU at the time. I only got to chant for him once, because I had no idea he needed me to.

Although BF saw him again after the party, I didn’t, but never forgot him. He remembered me (and my red hair) and sent home some delicious ribs and things for us to enjoy for dinner one night. I thanked him later, I think on FB Messenger.

This picture will be printed up and framed soon.

Son Davin Calhoun will continue their company Calhoun Performance that’s based in Baton Rouge.

This was a very nice man, and we are both saddened at the news. Mr. Calhoun was well-liked by so many, and won’t be forgotten. Thank you for the delicious memories, sir.

SPAM!

No, not that stuff in the can–the digital kind.

If you were the unfortunate recipient of this site directing you to one where you “won a prize,” I apologize. Somehow, the site got hacked, but it’s fixed now. Seems that somehow there were extra plugins I wasn’t aware of, but are now gone. The ever-vigilant Banana Rat found them and removed them quickly, and you shouldn’t see that again.

Don’t worry, I changed the website’s password too.

Blue Kitchen

I subscribe to a number of food as well as other types of blogs, many of which I mentioned last time. Blue Kitchen is written by Terry Boyd and his wife Marion, longer than me–since 2006. While my theme is:

Because good food deserves to be passed around.

Terry & Marion’s is:

Good Food. Great Stories. I Swear.

As you’ll read in their About section, when things go off the rails–like they do here–the air “turns blue” with, shall we say, colorful language. It happens more often than I admit to. The Boyds haven’t–to my knowledge–detailed the “blue” thrown about in their kitchen in any blog I’ve seen. Just know that I’m being polite when I don’t discuss what is occasionally said in the HeatCageKitchen. I don’t want to get blocked by my own hosting provider.

Based in St. Louis, Terry describes himself as I do, as an “amateur chef.” There’s the fabulous and complicated recipes you see in books by famous chefs, and then there’s dinner you’re making this evening. Terry and Marion focus on the latter, because you always have time to think about the former another time.

Pot Roast In The Instant Pot

As I alluded to last time, pot roast is one of the things that an Instant Pot, other pressure cooker, or a slow cooker works well to create. The super-heated water cooks things much faster, so even a larger cut will cook in less time. This smaller cut cooks in under an hour if it’s not frozen.

When their post landed in my email, I figured this would be a good thing to try. I have a new habit of *not* telling him what I’m making for dinner, but that eventually backfires.

When I said “pot roast,” BF was interested, so I made some. Unlike Terry & Marion, we are *not* trying to consume less red meat. But this was just right for us and one guest, another car-guy.

Ingredients

The setup

I know, it’s a lot of ingredients. However, much of it goes into seasoning the meat ahead of time.

So I bought a big roast and cut it in half. One half is still in the freezer.

Whole roast

Just about three pounds of meat.

Cut it in half and freeze the other:

two halves one in a freezer bag

Just like that.

Now season it.

Making The Dry Rub

Just like barbecue, there’s a dry-rub involved.

Dry rub ingredients

Measure and mix

Note that this is onion and garlic POWDER, not SALT. Big difference, and you’ll notice it if you make that mistake. Mix them up:

Mixed dry rub

Real simple to do

Now just sprinkle it on:

Seasoning roast

Quick and easy

Don’t forget the other side, of course.

Terry says you’ll have more seasoning than you need, but I ended up using the whole thing. That’s OK. Onto the next step.

Liquid Ingredients

As I always say, READ THE RECIPE FIRST. Always. Or your kitchen will be turning blue as well. Ask me how I know.

So I measured all the liquids first:

Mixing liquid ingredients

It’s one of those “mis en place” prep things that makes it easier when cooking

Yes, that’s actually fish sauce, and yes, I used it. Obviously, it’s not much. That bottle is in that place in the fridge where BF won’t see it.

Chop Your Veg

And get everything ready for the pot.

Garlic doodad

Don’t forget the garlic!

Potatoes, of course;

Peeling potato for pot roast

I peeled a bunch of these little red potatoes

Chopped potatoes

Cut them into bits

 

potatoes in water

And put them here.

There’s also some onion involved:

Chopped onion

Like you’d expect in a pot roast.

Now on with the show!

Cooking The Pot Roast

Using the saute’ function, heat the oil:

heating oil in instant pot

Just like that

Now sear the meat on both sides:

Searing meat

Side one

Flip it:

Flip side of pot roast in instant pot

Now the other

Take out the roast and set it aside on a plate (and in the microwave if you have hungry dogs.) Now cook the onion and garlic, adding more oil if you need it.

Cooking onion

Cook it long enough to come out like this:

Cooked onion

Like that

Add the garlic in right at the end:

Adding garlic into IP

That’s the garlic we chopped earlier

Once the veg is cooked, shut off the saute’ function. Add in the liquids, which I mixed in the big cup to add at once:

Liquids added to instant pot

Deglazing the pot

Scrape the browned bits off the bottom–that’s where the flavor is. Now add the pot roast, the bay leaves, and any liquid on the plate into the IP:

Adding pot roast back into pot

Just like that.

Finish the Pot Roast

Now add the carrots and potatoes:

Carrots and potatoes in the IP

Lookng more like a pot roast, isn’t it?

Use the pressure cook function to cook it for 40 minutes. When the cooking is done, leave it alone for ten minutes and then pop the pressure out.

Of course, I had company and forgot to take a picture of the end result. But if you read Terry’s page, you’ll see the finished product.

Marion describes the beautiful platter it’s presented on. I just took out the pot and brought it to the table. It was gobbled in short order, and there is one more “winner” recipe I can use.

Mississippi Pot Roast

When discussing “pot roast” and “Instant Pot” together, you will probably hear about a recipe called “Mississippi Pot Roast.” There are multiple variations of this recipe from wherever you find it, including:

 

I have no idea if this is any kind of “Mississippi authentic.” Never lived in Mississippi and never heard of it until people started telling me about the IP. The thing is, these recipes all have one thing in common: pickles or pickled peppers.

And as I’ve mentioned before, that’s the one thing BF hates.

Serve him anything sour, tart, with lemon or lime, vinegar, sour cream, or tastes anything like pickles is an absolute “no” vote, every time. That lentil salad I made in Houston? He said if I’d served that on a first date, there wouldn’t have been a second one. (Had I known this. . . .) If he goes to a drive-through window and gets a burger, he requests “no pickles.” Frequently, he gets them anyway or the pickles were removed later and he can still taste them.

I told him last night that if his IP-enthusiast sister-in-law brought up MS pot roast yet again, he now had a reason to tell her “no thanks.”

In Terry’s version, there aren’t any pickle-y things. The fish sauce is very mild, it’s a small amount, so it’s not “fishy tasting.” That’s why I knew this would work.

Real Texas Chili In The Instant Pot

Last weekend I also used the IP for some real Texas chili.

Texas Granola Girl, to whom I also subscribe, has a recipe for Texas Keto Venison Chili on her website. (I have her book, and will review it soon.) I’d forgotten about it, and when I found the ground deer meat in the freezer, I remembered it. (Even commented on it, if you scroll far enough.) Well, I made it last weekend. And I liked it, he didn’t–no beans. I’ll have it all week.

First alteration: I cooked it in the IP for 20 minutes. Perfect.

Second alteration: NO BEER. It’s awful if you don’t actually like beer. I just addeed three cups of organic bone broth instead. Everything else was the same, half ground venison and half ground beef. No beans. 

And BF didn’t like it, because it’s not what he thinks is “real chili.” I’ll explain.

Define “Chili.”

Last year, we went to BF’s Dad’s place up the road, where they were making what they called “chili.” They’ve been making it the same way since he was a kid.

What “chili” means to BF is some browned ground beef, a couple cans of locally produced red beans, (of course) and a packet of this rubbish from McCormick. It contains–what?–WHEAT FLOUR. Why?

To “pump up” the flavor even more, his Dad added BEER. (It wasn’t a fancy pilsner, either–it was cheap Michelob Light.) People here do not realize that beer is made from wheat. I always hope that when I tell people I don’t eat wheat that they mention it. But I nearly always get ignored, even when we go out to dinner.

When I questioned the chili’s unusual taste, I was told, “it’s beer; that’s his ‘secret’ ingredient.” Had no idea beforehand, or I would have had dinner at home. Thank heavens I had plenty of Tums on hand.

I just don’t eat over there anymore because I don’t like being sick all night. It happens way too often.

McCormick actually makes this organic version that is gluten-free. We’ve bought it many times, but of course, now we can’t find it locally anymore. He insists that making our own chili and taco seasoning isn’t as good as the packets.

I used to enjoy cooking.

Until Next Time

Alternately, you could let this slow cook all day and come home to a nice dinner, but the veg might be a bit mushy. Cooking becomes easier once you get used to using the Instant Pot. I’m always looking for new ways to make dinner, and this one happened to fit the bill.

Oh, and if you like eggplant, Terry & Marion’s latest post is all about it. YUCK! You can have mine, and BF’s too.  

Whatever’s for dinner, Enjoy!

The Trader Joe's affair

Hi, again, Dear Readers!

Bet you’re surprised to hear from me again this soon. Me too. But I had an adventure, and you know me, I gotta write about it. I didn’t plan on going to Trader Joe’s today, but I did. I was supposed to be going for a job interview with a major hospital system here, for a job in Baytown. Guess what? Ten minutes into the interview, the guy said, “Oh, no! Who told you that? Oh, really? Oh, sorry.” After one curt comment without swear words, I picked up my stuff and left as fast as I could. Had I not done that, I would have let the entire floor know I was not happy with wasting my time going into town for no reason. In a suit.

If you believe in angels, I think they’re pointing me somewhere. But that’s all I’ll say about that for now.

Yes, I’m still in a bad mood. But I’m getting there.

I had been thinking about a post-interview stop at Trader Joe’s on the way to town, since it was just a couple of miles away from the building I was in. I even brought a change of clothes so I’d blend in a little. Turns out I don’t blend in at the store in the Montrose area at all, that’s probably the main reason I prefer the store in The Woodlands. There’s nobody in The Woodlands with nearly floor-length red dreadlocks over the age of 65, not that I’ve ever seen. (It was a female.) But if you’re not in Houston, you might not understand that going to The Woodlands from the center of town would make for a very long trip home.

Oh, wait–I could have gotten a gluten free cupcake at Frost. AAAAHHH!! See? I told you I was in a bad mood. But I made it home safely, and didn’t have any crashes or “road rage” incidents, since I didn’t want to talk to anyone anyway.

Since I knew I was going to be hungry on the way home, I went next door to Whole Earth Provisions so I could get a couple of the delicious Epic bars. I can’t get them down in Clear Lake anymore, not that I can find, so this was just a one time thing. Guess what I found? New Lamb bar with currants and mint, no foolin’:

Bison and the new Lamb Epic bars. Delicious!

Bison and the new Lamb Epic bars. Delicious!

Yes, it was quite tasty. Both the lamb and bison were fresh, since they were slightly moist, much like a Larabar would be. However, unlike Larabars, these have less than 10 grams of sugar, mostly from the dried fruit. Larabars, and Energetica’s other product, Thunderbird bars, are all dried fruit with nuts, so they have much more sugar in them, and fat from the nuts. However, I know that some folks are not wild about mint, so if you’re one of those, avoid the delicious new lamb bar.

I stashed those on the front seat, then went to Trader Joe’s next door. I got some of this fancier bottled water, it’s right across the aisle from the olive oil, which is less expensive than HEB’s and comes in glass, not plastic bottles

Plenty of water and olive oil, but not for the same thing

Plenty of water and olive oil, but not for the same thing

.See? It was fancier than the standard stuff:

Magic water enhanced with electrolytes. Because I was really thirsty.

Magic water enhanced with electrolytes. Because I was really thirsty.

Their regular bottled water is 17 cents a bottle. However, this was a bigger bottle at 99 cents, and since I was going to have two Epic bars, I needed plenty of water.

I may have shown you this before, but I have a shelf hung by the stove, with a knife bar underneath, to make the heavy-duty cooking easier. I refilled that little bottle with olive oil so that I can just use that instead of going to the pantry to get a bigger bottle and mess with that. Also, that’s a sugar shaker from IKEA with kosher salt in it. Easier than going for the square box, too.

Salt, pepper, Chipotle Tabasco, olive oil, and some Cajun seasonings, along with the knives. Love them all!

Salt, pepper, Chipotle Tabasco, olive oil, and some Cajun seasonings, along with the knives. Love them all!

As you can see, I have been coping with this morning’s disaster with some, ah, creature comforts. Now, if you’re not familiar with Trader Joe’s, one of the things they’re famous for is their cheap wine. Those bottles are $3 each; they used to be $2, and they’re well loved by TJ devotees. I got another can of those New Mexico hatch green chiles; I used one can recently, which is will be in a future blog post (like maybe this afternoon if I’m in the mood.) Delicious cannellini beans, and tasty little tomatoes to go with the rest of the lettuce sealed up in the fridge:

Canned beans at their best, with cheap wine!

Canned beans at their best, with cheap wine!

Yum. Now, that can of cat food on top the beans is a treat for the cat beast, and not included as part of any human food created or consumed in the HeatCageKitchen–despite the jokes I may make about doing such a thing on occasion.

Take a closer look at the tomatoes:

They taste as good as they look, honest.

They taste as good as they look, honest.

More comfort food, Trader Joe’s style:

I don't have them together, except in the freezer. The brie is just an incredible piece of cheese.

I don’t have them together, except in the freezer. The brie is just an incredible piece of cheese.

Admittedly, those went into the freezer, because I could eat both the entire package of sausage and that 4 ounce round of cheese at once. OK, maybe half the cheese and two sausages today, the rest tomorrow. I found some of the sausages recently in the freezer and enjoyed them; this is just a replacement. Still, it’s really good, and both are the same price, $2.99. If you haven’t had goat milk brie, try it sometime–you’re in for a treat.

I was going to buy some tahini, that sesame paste you make hummus with. Guess what? That little refrigerated container had. . .WHEAT! No joke. I thanked the man for finding it for me; he didn’t think twice when he said, ‘Oh, you’re looking for gluten free?” Yes. That’s the one thing nobody seemed to blink at.

From the toiletries section, some lavender soap for my nighttime shower, and some tea tree oil soap just because it was cheaper and smells nice. That’s actually a package of two bars of tea tree oil soap, and all of their stuff is cruelty free, that is, not tested on animals. To me, looking at the cat beast sitting by the patio door, and thinking about all the little furry animals in the world, I appreciate that a lot.

Natural toiletries, too.

Natural toiletries, too.

OK, so I took it by the toaster oven. I ran out of room by the microwave.

I have been a fan of Chocolate Cherry Kind bars for a while, and they are the only ones I want. However, while I had two in my hand, I passed on them in favor of something less expensive:

This packet was 99 cents versus $3 for two Kind bars. One taste of Kind bars and you'll understand why I grab two.

This packet was 99 cents versus $3 for two Kind bars. One taste of Kind bars and you’ll understand why I grab two.

I don’t know why the picture loaded up sideways. But I will tell you that there are two servings in that bag, and they were both delicious. Still,one serving has 13 grams of sugar, which is not bad for candy. Ice cream can vary from 19 to 30 grams of sugar, but you have to read the label. Yogurt with fruit on the bottom can run 40 grams of sugar for the little cup, all while being touted as “healthy.” Which would YOU rather have?

All in all, I spent about what I’d get at HEB, although I just realized that my checker, “Matty,” neglected to ring up the 4 tins of Vanilla Mynts I put with my order, although I’m not sure why. I have some for now, I’ll just get more another time, I guess.

Well, anyway, I’ve got that out of my system, and I’ll have a couple of gluten free stories coming soon. And a cookbook review if I think about it.

Happy Dining!

 

 

 

 

Saturday Night Steak (and other updates)

Good evening Dear Readers:

I haven’t written since March 10, and for that I apologize. Even WordPress started nagging me about it! I’m still not working, but working ON it. I have some more gluten-free stuff to share, and I may have a big decision to make soon. But more on that as it happens, since I haven’t been offered anything in the top hiring state in the nation in the 8 months I have been actively looking for a job. Nuffin’.

Enough of that.

Remember the blog post I did on lunch bags a while back? Updates: I’ve got more sewing done, and the last of the lunch bags is complete. I have decided to retire the book Lunch Bags, at least for a while, until I have more inspiration or someone asks for one. This interesting lunch bag is the reason I bought that darn book in the first place. I even found the same fabric used in the book, but kept getting vexed by the directions. Finally, I finished it, more or less just like the book, even though I’m not carrying a lunch bag around anymore.

A triumph over. . .oh, heck, it's finished.

A triumph over. . .oh, heck, it’s finished.

There ended up being three of these Zipper-top Lunch Bags on page 71, two of which looked like this:

One of three lunch bags

One of three lunch bags

I gave one to my SGI-USA District Leader, and this last one went to faithful reader Aunt Kathy. Surprisingly, I had enough materials left to make a third, although I kept thinking this was a fourth. (I went to Tulane at night, so I can’t count.) I hate wasting fabric and supplies, so Neighbor K got this version:

A wilder version of the Zippered Lunch Bag

A wilder version of the Zippered Lunch Bag

If you’re wondering why I call it that, it’s because I used black on the bottom and for whatever reason, I’d previously cut more Insul-Fleece with this fabric to line it with:

And the screaming red liner for lunch bag 3. Told you it was wilder

And the screaming red liner for lunch bag 3. Told you it was wilder.

I forgot to take a picture before I gave it to her, so yes, if you’re reading this, K, these pictures were taken in your kitchen when I brought the pug back in. (K also was the recipient of the first bicycle lunch bag.)

A note about Insul-Fleece–it won’t keep lunch icy cold for a long period of time, you’ll have to stash the bag in the fridge at work, or at least carry something that won’t spoil easily.

I’m not sewing that much, mostly on the weekend. I’ve got a couple of things to stitch up this weekend and I hope I get them all finished on time.

OK, now through the bedroom to the HeatCageKitchen garden on the back patio. NOTE: I am NOT making escargot from the snails I keep finding. Yuck. I just toss them over the fence and tell them to go find a new life.

So the gardening is, well, it’s going, and if you remember the little tomato survivor, it finally turned red and became part of a garden salad.

The one, lonely winter-surviving tomato.

The one, lonely winter-surviving tomato.

Incidentally, that plant is starting to come back, as you can see from the greenery at the bottom. Need to trim off the brown parts so the green can thrive. I think I waited a bit too long to use the tomato, because it became a bit, oh, you know, odd, like it was over-ripened, but not too far. Hate to toss that hardy plant after the multiple freezes it went through.

I also had my computer in the shop for a few days, and before I picked it up yesterday I ducked into Garden Ridge a couple of doors down. I saw lots of hanging planters for both tomatoes and strawberries, including one that you plant bell peppers on one end and tomatoes on the other. A hanging salsa grower? I’m game.

So I gathered up a few ingredients including mint, lettuce, Italian flat-leaf parsley, two garlic shoots, and one hardy tomato and made a gourmet salad. Ready? Here it is.

Le Salade a la Amy Garden

Le Salade a la Amy Garden. You would pay top dollar for this in a snooty restaurant.

Those dark colored leaves are lettuce from the “city mix” I planted several months ago. For whatever reason, that was pretty much everything I harvested, and a little has grown back. Oh, boy.

Sure, I put a bit of salt and fresh-mixed dressing on it–who wouldn’t? Of course it was tasty, but I put too many mint leaves in it. Not earth-shattering, just a little potent.

Speaking of salads, I have gone back to doing the lettuce-in-a-jar thing after a few months of not doing it, mostly because of the very cold weather. While we didn’t get any snow this time around, not many folks are interested in cool, crisp lettuce when the heater is on and the fireplace is lit. You want warm. . .much as I love salads, this winter, I gave it up for a while.

So you probably know my penchant for seeking out stuff on sale, particularly meat on sale, and at SuperTarget, I can definitely get lucky.

The steak to start with

The steak to start with. No, Fancy Feast was not part of the deal.

This particular steak was a good flank steak, and the kind that’s organic grass fed and all that. But what to do with it?

When I had a “regular” job (that is, one I knew I was going to every day) my favorite single-girl payday meal was a steak salad I created with the usual lettuce/tomato/cucumber, and added either sugar snap peas, avocado, or some other veggie that looked real good that day. My preferred steak was the Flat Iron Steak, which I’d never heard of before but eagerly tried and loved.

The dressing is one of my favorites from Suzanne Somers’ Get Skinny On Fabulous Food, (page 149) with six tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, two tablespoons lemon juice, two cloves of garlic, and salt with freshly ground black pepper. Whiz that together with your hand blender or mini blender, and set that aside.

I discovered flat iron steaks while prowling in Kroger’s meat department one day. They were, at the time, relatively inexpensive, although the price has gone up considerably in the last couple of years. I would get a big one, use my little meat tenderizer tool thingy and get it cooking. Of course I wouldn’t eat the ENTIRE steak at one time; they are usually as long as my forearm. Depending on the size of the steak, I would have one third to one fourth on the salad, and then cut up the rest for more delicious salad later. Sliced thinly and against the grain, the steak and the accompanying salad veggies are wonderful together with that simple vinaigrette.

Yum. I need to make that dressing again soon. Shaking oil & vinegar in a jar is easy, but that one is fantastic.

My method for cooking just about any kind of steak is simple: stash it under the broiler in the toaster oven. Oh, wait, you want to do it on top the stove? OK, here you go: cast iron pan, a little olive oil, heat on high while you prep your steak (salt/pepper, whatever.) Once you know it’s screaming hot, toss that steak in and IMMEDIATELY turn down the heat to medium. DO NOT go check Facebook because you will ruin a good steak. Do not do that, either.

After a few minutes, when you can easily pick up the steak with tongs, a fork or other implement, flip it. Don’t pull or scrape the steak from the pan–if it’s stuck, leave it until it’s not stuck anymore, which shouldn’t be more than a few minutes, like 5 to 7. (You did put oil in the pan, right?) Cook on the second side until it’s done to your liking–red, pink, completely cooked through, whatever. I prefer some red/pink in the middle, because I will microwave the leftovers later and I don’t want to overcook them.

Really, you should leave a steak to rest for five minutes before you cut into it. Some of us are impatient, but I do it most of the time.

This particular steak I cooked on top of the stove, but because I have more time on my hands than most, I decided to marinate it before hand.

Ahh, there's the rub!

Ahh, there’s the rub! Lemon zest, garlic shoots and finely chopped rosemary from the garden.

I’ve said this before, I love the garlic shoots, and if you’ve never tried growing garlic, it’s not difficult. I haven’t yet harvested any, because I don’t think it’s time, but I’ll keep you posted.

To the chopped stuff, I tossed in some olive oil–I didn’t measure, but I’d say it was between a quarter cup and an eighth of a cup. Mixed it all together, along with some salt and pepper, dropped the steak in and coated both sides, put some plastic wrap on top and stashed it in the fridge.

After the overnight bath

After the overnight bath

The next day I just used my steak-cooking method and it came out wonderful:

That's what a steak is supposed to look like!

That’s what a steak is supposed to look like!

After the requisite rest period, it looks like this when you slice it:

Oh, yeah. . . .

Oh, yeah. . . .

Yes, it was a really good steak. Twice. The lemon, mild garlic and rosemary infused the meat with a mild but distinct flavor that was tasty, but not overpowering like some marinades and flavorings can do. I don’t mind a stronger flavor, but this was certainly worth the time and effort. I’ll do this again sometime, maybe with garlic cloves rather than the shoots (which I probably won’t have much longer anyway once I harvest.)

It’s gluten free! (By virtue of having no bread/wheat around, of course.)

You could always do this on a grill, too. . .I just didn’t. Feel free to grill and let me know how it turns out, please.

It was a good night, and I even had a glass of wine after dinner. With more sewing done and projects given away, it was a pretty good weekend.

More to come in upcoming blog posts.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Easy dinner for two (or more, if you like)

Afternoon, Dear Readers:

Here in Houston, the weather has warmed up, the clouds are gone and it’s a lovely day. I say that not to make anyone jealous, but to remind you that winter always turns to spring. Eventually.

Y’all, it just dawned on me that I didn’t recommend anything for Valentine’s Day dinner. DUH.

Sure, you could go out to dinner. Have you ever tried to get a reservation for Valentine’s Day? No, I don’t mean Golden Corral. . . Jack In The Box is usually open. So is Carl’s Jr., if you have one in your area–they have sweet potato fries!

Or just go out and find a place to eat. You’ll be elbow-to-elbow with all the other star-crossed lovers. Forget that!  Make dinner for your sweetie–but don’t go overboard. You need something easy that won’t take long. So here you go.

One of my newest favorite foods is cannellini beans. You know, the white kidney beans, usually from Italy. They are SOOOO good. I have a number of recipes calling for them, but my absolute favorite is, once again, from Nigella Lawson. It’s a simple white bean mash that can take the place of mashed potatoes and tastes so much better.

Thing is, you have to do it exactly as the recipe states. However, I’ve fiddled with it a bit to make it just for lunch. I’ll explain that in a minute.

Tonight, if you can get some nice little steaks and three cans of cannellini beans, (don’t forget olive oil, lemon and garlic) you’re all set–just make sure dessert is delicious, too. (It does not have to be chocolate, OK?) You make the beans first, then cook up the steaks and squeeze the lemon into the hot pan to deglaze it. The most time it takes is for making the bean mash. You can find the entire recipe here.

A steak dinner on Valentine’s Day? Of course!

Now, I have, on a couple of occasions, accidentally bought those little great white beans, or whatever they are called, because I simply grabbed the wrong can. This is easy when you buy Goya, because the cans all look alike. Darnit. They work, but are not as tasty as the cannellini.

Since my job ended on January 31, I’ve been eating white bean mash nearly every day. Why? I love it! With turkey, meatloaf, or whatever I feel like cooking up, it’s simple. And I also figured out how to make it in the microwave.

Rinse one can of beans and dump it in a microwave safe bowl; preferably one like a Grab-It with rounded sides and wide. Add to it a goodly amount of olive oil (maybe 1/8 cup, just eyeball it), and grate in a clove of garlic and some lemon zest (one small or half a large.) Microwave it until it’s hot. Take it out (put it on something heat-safe) and get a wide, flat spoon (a round wooden one works great) and mash to your heart’s content. Taste, and dd a bit of salt if you think you need it (mine always do) and mash until you get the same nubbly consistency, or it’s good enough for one person to devour.

I took that to work many times. Now that I’m not working, I just need to make sure I keep cannellini beans in the pantry.

That’s all for now.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and Enjoy!

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