A cranberry-rhubarb relish
This is great on pork chops! Made with rhubarb from our CSA.
Beef bone broth
I got 40# of bones for $20 back in December, and those bones were from pasture-raised beef. I used the broth to make terrific blender tomato sauce (I’ll post the recipe soon) and minestrone soup.
Made with the beets we received in our CSA yesterday, Beet Kvass is a standard in every Ukrainian home. It is a blood tonic and cleanser; full of minerals and probiotics.
Also known as tea kvass, you can read all about kombucha here. This is a staple in our home and I credit this beverage (and God of course!) with my speedy recovery from childbirth!
Stewed rhubarb and strawberries from CSA, a small amount of organic sugar and stevia to taste. This was cooked down to a syrup and then was blended with some lemon juice, water, and a bit of kombucha to add a kick. My kids love this! Very refreshing for such a hot day.
That’s all! But do try to guess what else I’ve got above!!
Coming up: I’m making a goal to post more often. I hesitate to say what’s coming up, but I’m hoping to start posting my weekly menu plan each Sunday night (from a new blog-inspiration, here!) Michele’s blog ROCKS, but please do come back and visit here once in a while once you get hooked on hers!!
In that vein, I have recently stopped shopping at big box grocery stores (with the exception of Costco occasionally) in favor of farm-direct purchases (for meat, dairy, and most produce), Azure standard (they are about 50 miles east of Portland, for staples), and New Seasons Market (which is locally owned and operated, here in Portland).
But then, there’s Trader Joe’s! Oh, how I love(d) Trader Joe’s. Well, actually I have a love-hate relationship with Trader’s, and have struggled to reconcile the things I love about it for the things I don’t like.
I used to love TJ’s for all of the “good” boxed items they had that were so much cheaper than their Health Food Store counterparts. It was great for snacks, canned foods, frozen entrees, etc. Even though I try not to buy that stuff anymore, I still see the merit in knowing where to find it if you’re out of commission and need some “better” processed food.
So, after eliminating most boxed stuff from my shopping list and rethinking the way I purchase food, I started to think about what was left for me at Trader’s.
And then it hit me: Trader’s.
I started thinking about how folks ate “back then” (you know, when our grands and great-grands were little). I remember my husband telling me a story of how his grandfather would covet the orange he received in his stocking once a year at Christmas. I am just now understanding why an orange would be such a rarity!!! By the way, I have stopped purchasing oranges and bananas because I simply do not see a need for them! I won’t judge you if you do, but I personally want to see how much local produce I can live on without having to get food from another hemisphere.
OK, so back to Trader’s. In the old days, people ate mostly what they hunted, grew, or what their neighbors hunted or grew. And then, there were those exotic things that you could never grow where you lived (like bananas?!) and you purchased them from “traders”. These were special things that you savored and used sparingly.
When I started to look at Trader Joe’s as a place to purchase specialty items, I felt more reconciled to the fact that I could enjoy the savings that TJ’s offers without being tempted by all the processed food in earthy, hip packaging.
Here are my rules for shopping at TJ’s :
- Be absolved of the need to buy local
- Do not buy produce or bakery products (except perhaps sprouted bread, most everything else is a rip-off IMHO)
- Item must be plain, unprocessed food and as close to its natural state as possible,with as few ingredients as possible.
- Item must be something that I could not get locally.
- Item must be something I could not make myself.
- Any meat purchased must meet my meat rules.
If I stick to the above rules, I can usually get out of TJ’s without spending more than $50. If I stick to my rules, I can usually milk TJ’s for the best of what it has to offer while remaining true to my thrifty oreganic principles. I go to TJ’s about once every two weeks normally, and purchase items that last a while. With that in mind, here is a list of what I purchase regularly (or as needed) at TJ’s:
*kalamata olives, toasted sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, organic peanut butter (although I sometimes make my own), organic ketchup (also something I’m going to start making), grade B maple syrup (processed w/o formaldehyde), pure vanilla extract, canned sardines
*kerrygold butter (best price!), Parmesan cheese (they have a raw one for a great price)
*applegate farms uncured turkey bacon (sometimes), prosciutto, pancetta (also sometimes, TJ’s sells uncured versions of both), uncured beef franks
*blueberries, raspberries, shrimp
*blu italy sparkling water (occasionally), savory rice crackers (occasionally)
*SLS free shampoo (this is for my kids and hubby, I make my own for myself), Bronner’s peppermint soap, dishwasher soap (earth-friendly, although I do hope to start making this soon too!), dish soap. all-purpose cleaner, hand soap. TJ’s prices are the BEST on these and the quality of the products rivals Seventh Generation and the like.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but this is generally what I would consider the BEST DEALS at Trader Joe’s. Your mileage may vary, of course, especially if your family does grains. When we were still eating wheat, I bought Ezekial 4:9 bread at TJ’s at it was definitely the best price around!
On what additional items do you think TJ’s has the best deal? Please leave a comment!
Today was truly Thrifty and Oreg-anic. The sun shined its beautiful face down upon us for the first time in what fealt like ages. I’m not bitter, though, because the rain has sure made the garden veggies grow!
We are blessed in that we live in a condo community that has a large space devoted to a community garden. More importantly, we have some very talented “green thumbs” who make sure that they grow plenty of extra spinach, lettuce, and beans to name a few. One neighbor and I are teaming together to grow a plot of land. She was good enough to prep the soil (and boy is it fertile!) and I was happy to plant and sow the seeds and maintain. All in all, that little plot should grow plenty of food for both of us.
See, that’s the great thing about a garden. A packet of seeds for $2.50 or so holds in it enough potential to feed a whole army of people! Many Biblical analogies are coming to mind here! No wonder Jesus spoke so much in “growing” parables. Besides that, there is little that is more satisfying than spending an entire day outdoors in the sunshine working the dirt and knowing that you are growing some of your own food.
Here’s hoping that it will grow! We planted:
- zucchini squash
- pole beans
- pickling cucumbers
In containers, I started:
The latter two were actually transplants from last season….we’ll see if they’re ready for round two! There’s some prolific sage growing practically wild from last year in another part of the garden as well as thyme, so in addition to Scarborough Fair, I will be able to stuff one of my Deo Volente chickens this week with some delicious quinoa-herb stuffing (I’ll share the post later) and use fresh herbs this time instead of dried!
So, speaking of being Thrifty, my husband came home yesterday morning from the Cedar Mill Farmer’s market with $6.75 worth of produce which included:
- one head of Butter Lettuce (huge leaves!)
- a pound or so of sugar snap peas
- a huge bunch of the most delicate asparagus you ever saw
I was pretty impressed! The Cedar Mill farmer’s market is much smaller in scope than Beaverton’s, but I like it. It’s simple to maneuver and find parking for (we could walk there even) and not so large that you get overwhelmed. There selection, however, is limited more to vegetables while Beaverton carries grass-fed meats, artisan cheeses, baked goods, and other “novelties”. It’s more of a dog-and-pony show (I love using that expression!).
So, since tonight was such a lovely night, three of us “young families” who reside in our complex fired up the BBQ and pulled chairs out of our house and each contributed our own meat and veggies and enjoyed a BYOM-BBQ as the kids ran around and used their imaginations playing super heros.
I’m proud to say our entire meal was locally grown and purchased! I threw together some burgers from our pastured beef we ordered from “Holly” in Molalla. I just mixed garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and powdered vegetable broth a la Gaylord Hauser and threw them on the grill. As a side, I grilled some of that delicious asparagus with salt, pepper, and olive oil. It was so tender and delicious! We wrapped our burgers in the above-mentioned large-leaf lettuce; we didn’t miss the buns!
I’m looking forward to many more summer nights like these, especially as our garden (hopefully) starts to produce.
I’m still cooking up a post on Trader Joe’s as well as (thanks to Betsy’s suggestion) what I order in bulk from Azure!