New Seasons Market is celebrating their 10-year anniversary this week with “Roll Back Prices” reflective of the year 2000 when they opened! I was pretty impressed with all of the deals going on there this week. If you have a Chinook Book or a Mambo Sprouts Coupon Catalogue, you can score some great match-up deals!
Those of you locals who read my blog know how eclectic I am in my grocery shopping. I like Trader Joe’s for some things, I do Azure Standard for lots of things, and for meat I usually buy it off the bone. All of this renders my “weekly shopping” down to a minimum since I pretty much go for fresh produce and fresh seafood, poultry, or beef cuts that I don’t have on hand. I do try to usually use what I have, so this keeps my weekly costs down. I realize that not all of my readers have access to Azure or the freezer space to store tons of whole chickens and hamburger meat, so I’m going to begin featuring a weekly “Thursday’s Thrifty Meals” featuring the weekly specials at New Seasons Market. This is part of a greater project in conjunction with $5 Dinners who features a “Weekly Bargain Meal of the Week”. Read the rest of this entry »
With the rising cost of food, it’s always nice to find “cheap eats” that are nourishing, sustainable, and affordable. Here are my “meat principles”:
- Meat must be raised on pasture
- Meat must be raised on a farm that is farmer-owned
- Meat that meets the criteria above contains healthy fats like CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid, therefore fatty meat is good!
- A little nutrient dense, good-fat laden meat goes a long way!
OK, so with that in mind, here are my top 3 best deals for “Cheap Meats”and a recipe. These recipes are kid-tested and mother-approved!
What: Chicken Skins (Pacific Village)
Where: New Seasons Market
Price: Free (ask the butcher)
I grew up in the south, the land of Fried Chicken, and let’s be honest and say what every kid inherently knows to be true: Chicken Skin is the best! I know, I know, I know. Fat is bad. Well, not true! If you want the “Skinny on Fats” look here.
Suffice to say, if you want filling, low-carb snacks that satiate, then try Fried Chicken Skins:
Fried Chicken Skins
1 lb chicken skins (from pasture-raised animals)
Sea Salt to taste
Herbs and Spices of your choosing (organic, MSG-free)
Place Chicken Skins in Skillet. Season with salt and favorite seasonings. Cook on medium until you have “cracklings”. Drain on paper towel or wire rack until completely crispy. Eat as is, or serve on top of a green lettuce salad.
What: Beef Liver
Price: $3.00-$5.00 per liver (one liver can go for several meals)
It’s amazing what organic, fresh, pasture-raised liver tastes like compared to the alternative. It’s night and day! When cooked right, liver is delicious, and I used to vow I would NEVER like liver. For a great article on the benefits of eating liver, go here.
What: Nitrate-Free Bacon “Ends and Pieces”
Where: New Seasons Market
Price: $1.99 per pound!
With nitrate-free, naturally cured bacon clocking in at around $5.99 per pound around town, I was so excited when I recently noticed a bin of “ends and pieces” of bacon. I purchased a pound, and was happy to see that a pound is quite a bit! Half the time, I cut bacon into bite-sized pieces anyway, or I just use the fat when cooking greens. The following recipe incorporates both the liver and the bacon:
The very Best Liver and Onions with Bacon
1/2 a beef liver, cut into strips (cover in lemon juice, and marinate in the fridge for 4 hours)
1 cup of bacon ends and pieces, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced into rings
In a cast iron pan, throw your bacon and onion slinces. Carmelize the onions over medium heat in the bacon fat. When onions are limp and golden, remove them and the bacon to a plate, leaving the bacon fat. Throw in the drained liver strips and fry until brown on all sides. You want them to remain tender. Overcooking will result in tough liver! Serve with the bacon and onions. Enjoy and feel good!
Alternative Option if you (or yours) Liver-phobic:
Follow the recipe above. Take 4 cups of beef or chicken broth and heat to warm. Place liver, onions, and bacon into blender and this makes a lovely soup!
Leftover “Sneaky Liver Rice” A Meal in Itself!!!!
This recipe is in the same spirit as the option above. Place about a cup’s worth of leftover liver/bacon/onion combo into the blender or food processor. Add 1 cup of chicken or beef stock or water. Puree the begeebers out of it until it’s totally liquid (I use a VitaMix).
Take this 2 cups of liquid and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of brown rice and any additional seasonings (for some ideas, see below) and cook as usual.
Serves 4 adults as a main dish.
*For an Italian dish: Add 2 Tbs prepared pesto to the boiling liver broth. When rice is finished, top with grated parmesan or raw cheddar, carmelized onions and garlic, and some freshly cut flat leaf parsley (or any fresh herbs). This is delicious with pancetta and makes a lovely poor man’s “risotto primavera” when you add seasoal veggies such as peas, fava beans, broccoli, and asparagus. My whole family devoured this dish!
*For a Mexican dish: Add 2 TBS of tomato paste to the boiling liver broth, in addition to 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, and 2 tsp dried oregano. You can also add about 1/4 tsp of chili flakes if you like things a little bit spicy. Add two cloves of minced garlic and some sliced green olives (optional) and you will have yourself a very hearty dish. Don’t forget to top with fresh cilantro and cotija cheese! I served this to guests (one pregant who couldn’t keep anything down!) and got rave reviews.
*For an Indian dish: Add 4 tsp curry powder OR make your own: (1 tsp fenugreek seeds, 2 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. Cloves and cardamom are good too!) Toss in some frozen peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking and top with cilantro.
All by itself, any version of Leftover Liver Rice is sure to please and definitely can suffice as a nourishing, complete meal in itself! Just don’t tell anyone what was in it until they are finished eating!
The next 10 days or so will probably be rather sporadic on the blog as I take some time off to focus on Holy Week. I will probably post little odds & ends, but will resume with the series on dairy in the weeks to follow. I also have an exciting set of ponderings on Trader Joe’s to share! Stay tuned…..this blog has so much fun to come! Time is my only limit. As a mother who makes everything from scratch, there’s not always a lot of time to blog!
However, currently all dishes are done, everyone’s asleep, and so I’m stealing away for some odds and ends and updates.
Since I love all things local, real, and sustainable…I want to pass on some information I received on a new store opening up in Vancouver, Washington. StitchCraft (see link on my “Got Bookmark? section). First of all, it is owned by a mom, and former Attachment Parenting International leader. The store is the first, traditional retail shop in the country with the largest concentration of organic yarns, fabrics, laces, home dec fabrics and wallpapers. It’s not just organic stuff, but high quality organics that are a pleasure to work with, and owner Nicholette claims she can can “tell you the backstory on each product in the shop! In addition, to organic, you will find natural fibers like cottons, wools, silk, and alpaca. There is no acrylic here! I won’t put plastic on any baby!”
Check out her website for details on her grand opening coming in May. Now, if only I could crochet something useful, other than a scarf! I would LOVE to learn how to be more “thrifty” in the garment/fiber department. But that’s for another phase of life….
Also, I came across Alyss’ “Year of Lunches”. If you’re in the market for some whole food lunchbox inspiration, look no further than Alyss’ page! It’s a flikr page, so you can scan through them nice and quick. She uses the “Laptop Lunch” system, which I consider to be a Thrifty Oreganic staple (although I have yet to purchase one. We eat all our lunches at home with very little exceptions!). The LLS can be found locally at New Seasons Market, which is a locally owned (read: not owned by Kroger, Safeway, Target, or any other Big Box Company).
Speaking of local, I just received confirmation on my CSA membership! Yep, we’re trying one out this year at a farm just about 20 miles from here called Sun Gold Farm. I’m so excited about eating seasonally. We will have “harvest boxes” delivered to my husband’s place of employment weekly from June through October. All for $18 per week, which I would easily end up paying at the grocery store or farmer’s market anyway! Luckily for them, all their memberships are sold out. I’m so glad that people are investing in local farms!
To find a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) near you, or to find local farms or markets, check out Local Harvest, a very extensive website showing farms, CSAs, and farmers markets all over the US. I can’t believe they’re not on my links section yet! I better add them.
Ok, so back to the lunchbox-meets-thrifty-oreganic theme: I never really expounded on all the great creations you can have with your homemade yogurt. Here are some quick ideas (great for packing in that lunchbox!) for inexpensive, healthy yogurt treats:
- Vanilla Yogurt: To one cup of yogurt, add 1/4 tsp of Real Vanilla Extract plus maple syrup to taste. This is the best you’ll ever have, I promise!
- Berry yogurt: Add any berries and some sweetner. I like frozen blueberries and 4 drops of liquid stevia and so does my 3 year old!
- Botched yogurt: Ok, so I totally botched a batch. My usual “incubating” cooler was incubating my seedlings, so I used something else and it didn’t really work. I mean, my result was yogurt, but it was very separated and runny. So I made some whey and cream cheese by straining it, and it was actually pretty good. I used the rest to soak my oats overnight for Baked Oatmeal a la my friend Maria’s blog!
For those of you who have asked, I will talk about fasting & traditional foods (yeah, about 5 weeks too late some of you may say!) I have a very interesting sunflower seed cheeze that’s still in the testing phase, and I’m experiementing with seed yogurt and will share the results as soon as I can!
Thanks, as always, for reading if you got this far!