Tag Archives: budgeting

Avalanch

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I’ve been home here in the northwest, without cable and reliable internet for a few months now. It’s taken some adjusting, forcing me out of habits and especially my comfort zones. With the local library, a $10 antenna, new cell device, changing my cell service carrier and careful timing, it’s working – at least until the landscape melts. I’m not gonna lie, I miss spending hours a week interacting with my family, friends and fellow bloggers on line.

And with the exceptionally hard winter I’ve taken some hits. Falls, colds, joint aches, some tendinitis, bursitis on top of my new, stylish gait from fracturing my coccyx (Hey! I got to say it again). At one point I considered what being trapped in an avalanche felt like. The next morning I realized I was complaining, aloud, actually whining at my mirror, “Really? Aren’t we done with this crazy cold yet?”

Was it me I recall saying, “I adore the four equal seasons here. Just about the time we wonder if the heat or the cold will ever let up, Bam! it does?” Yeah. I said it. Often. Coming home to the old, familiar climate that suits me best was what I looked forward to most. Not. This. Winter.

“Do everything without complaining and arguing,”*

Convicted, I was more determined to 1) stop whining, and then look for new ways to get through challenges. As I groaned zipping my jeans I thought about eating better. I’m kinda big on eating well, so this would take more than merely adjusting my diet.

I began by turning off the TV, radio, Kindle, CDs, setting aside books, newspapers and all other distractions at mealtime and while dining. Immediately I not only spared myself the smells and waste from scorching or burning my food while multitasking, but I honestly became more fully aware of my many blessings. I enjoy the challenges of “saving” a recipe, but not needing to is way better.

After a few days I noticed I ate less and enjoy food more. Soon, my jeans fit more comfortably again; remarkable after weeks without power walks and workouts while I heal. Okay, that’s mostly to avoid treacherous snowbanks, snow and ice avalanching from the rooftops.

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We’re not actually snowbound – now. Despite dark, overcast skies for days on end, the sun teases now and then lighting up the sparkling, pastoral scenery surrounding me. Life is indeed beautiful. After months of frozen white everywhere I’m determined to enjoy the beautiful quiet. And be very ready for spring.

Excuse me a minute while I check the furnace wood stove.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

*Philippians 2:3 (NLT)

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Beefy Pepper and Cabbage Soup

I took my morning walks to new locations the past two weeks, one being the local upscale grocery store. An old hand at couponing, I watch the sale ads and check the clearance items carefully, which stretches my fuel budget even at upscale stores.

This week, to my delight I found one large portion of boneless beef ribs in the Manager’s Special (the day-old) section of the meat case. Soup makes coming home through the thunderstorms wonderful this week. With the package of rib meat I wandered on down the isle where I found some marrow bones.

At the checkout, I was pleased to have spent less than $5.00 on enough protein and nutrients for the family and company. As I walked my prize home between cloudbursts I thought through the contents of the refrigerator and pantry. While the deluge continued to flood parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I cooked. In the end, the soup warmed us all.

beef cabbage pepper soup

beefy pepper and cabbage soup

Beefy Pepper Cabbage Soup
Makes 4 – 6 servings

3 – 6 large marrow bones (knuckle bones or neck bones are also fine)
1 large onion
2 large whole cracked (slightly crushed) cloves fresh garlic***

1 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 – 2 pounds. beef; rib meat (boneless ribs) or stew meat cut into bite sized pieces
1 teaspoon McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning blend
*** when fresh garlic isn’t available, add granulated garlic to meat.

3 peeled (or carefully scrubbed) sliced carrots
3 sliced celery ribs
1 red bell pepper – chopped
1 orange or yellow bell pepper – chopped
1 large bay leaf
2 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoon chopped parsley
3 cups chopped cabbage

Place marrow bones, onion and ***fresh garlic in a large, deep saucepan or a small stock pot and cover with water. Bring to boil, then reduce to a slow simmer for approximately 2 – 3 hours (depending upon sizes of bones).

While bones simmer, cut meat and vegetables into bite-sized pieces and chop herbs finely. Refrigerate an hour or so, but take out early enough to allow everything to warm to room temperature.

Once marrow cooks from the bones and they are hollow, remove bones and garlic (garlic if preferred) and discard.

In skillet, season and sear meat pieces, stirring to brown outsides, being careful to not burn or scorch the drippings. Add meat to stock pot and let skillet cool till warm to touch. Once skillet is cooled sufficiently, pour 2 cups hot water into skillet, stir to loosen browned bits from bottom and sides. Pour liquid into stock.

Stir bay leaf, cilantro, parsley, carrots, celery (and potatoes if desired) into stock and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer 8 – 10 minutes. Stir in peppers and cabbage.

If stock is not level with meat and vegetables add enough ** Beef flavor Better Than Bullion (or beef bullion) stock (I needed 2 more cups) to not quite cover. Bring to a strong simmer for another ten – fifteen minutes until all vegetables are just tender (you can cook longer if you like your vegetables cooked into mush ; ).

Bullion tends to be salty, so I don’t add additional salt and there’s sufficient pepper in the Montreal blend. Add additional salt to taste if you prefer.

Wonderful served with crusty rolls or toasted garlic bread.

*** OR add 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic or garlic powder to meat as it browns
** 2 teaspoons beef soup base (or bullion cubes) to 2 cups water.
* 1 large white rose, yellow gold, or red potato cubed if desired. Note: russett potatoes tend to break down in stock.

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2015-10-26 · 11:58

Turkey Medallions – Times of Feasting and Getting Famished

Have I mentioned how autumn is my favorite time of the year? In case the break in hot or hotter weather isn’t enough to inspire longer walks later in the morning, colorful vistas cause me to swoon. Unlike any other season, I’m actually excited about bargain shopping and exercising my mad couponing skills so that city traffic doesn’t even bother me.

Before (possibly during) the Avian Flu outbreak, discounted marinated turkey breasts reduced for quick sale became stars in our summer suppers. From the grill, oven or cut into medallions, they’ve not only delighted company served up with my From the Hip Mango Salsa (which is actually chutney **), but inspired other successful experiments.

Turkey Tenderloin Medallions

Turkey Tenderloin Medallions

One of the blessings is a taste delight I developed, first from leftovers, and then with the whole tenderloins fresh from the wrapper. Now with cooler weather coming on I’m contemplating how to make a twenty pound turkey disappear among three people. Since I alone actually like leftover turkey this is a hefty challenge.

The savvy shopper is ever watchful for clearance sales on wines that enhance many recipes with a broader flavor palette (alcohol cooks away leaving a thicker, more flavorful reduction instead of gravies). Cashing in those Catalina coupons from the grocers’ registers makes them more affordable.

With turkey one can bravely go where no cook has gone before. Worst case results, it’s still gonna taste like turkey (yet again) and can be livened up with sauce or gravy.

Back when I kept large breed dogs, my passion for good, natural food benefited the canids attached to my household as well. To make the food budget stretch, I’d roast turkeys, only I’d filet off, skins and tie together the breast, leg and thighs. I did likewise with chicken. The skins, spine, neck, giblets, etc. all went to the dogs, sometimes via the freezer. The people portions frozen raw in marinade made life simpler for delightful, quick meals.

Turkey Medallions in Chardonnay Reduction

Prepare ahead rice (steamed is good, pilaf is superb), risotto, quinoa, couscous, pasta or noodles. Enough to make a bed on platter.

Ingredients:

2# (Aldi’s) Rotissery flavor turkey breast tenderloin, sliced into 3/4″ medallions
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 large sweet onion chopped
3 or 4 fresh zucchini 1″ slices
1# fresh white mushrooms, sliced in 3rds
garlic (to preference)
branch of fresh rosemary (can be easily removed before serving)
1 pound, bag or 2 bunches (well cleaned) chopped spinach – preferably baby, or arugula
3 cups chardonnay (or any sweet, white wine)
1 cup water

Slice turkey in 3/4″ medallions (or slice into bite-sized strips if you prefer). Heat deep skillet, coat with evoo, stir fry turkey pieces on hi temp till browned but still raw in centers.

Reduce heat to medium-high, (remove from burner for a minute or two if necessary to prevent scorching). Add onion and saute 3 mins, till just tender. add mushrooms, saute till firm-tender, about 3 mins. Add rosemary sprig and stir another minute till aromatic.

Add 1 cup wine, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil again, stirring to scrape skillet bottom till smooth. Reduce heat, top with zucchini, cover, simmer gently 2 – 5 mins. Gently fold in spinach, cover, cook 3 more mins.

Remove meat & veggies from pan. Turn heat to high, stir in remaining wine. Cover meat and veggie platter with another plate and pour into pan the juices that have now collected at bottom of platter. Continue slowly stirring to prevent scorching until mixture begins to thicken* and reduction is thick enough to cling and cover spoon. If mixture reduces too much, add a little more wine until slightly thinner than desired consistency. Cover and remove mixture from heat. Let sit 3 – 5 minutes.

Cover a deep platter with a bed of noodles, pasta or grain (or plate individually). Arrange meat and veggies on top. With rubber spatula stir reduction, scraping bottom and sides. Ladle sauce over meat and veggies on platter. Serve with crusty, warm bread or rolls. Bon appetit!

Also delicious topped with a dollop of Greek style yogurt and sprinkled with chopped, fresh parsley.

* One can substitute turkey or chicken broth instead of (or in addition to) wine. Reducing broth or stock takes longer, so be patient and careful to stir often to prevent scorching.

** God willing, I will also share that recipe.

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