Thursday, April 30, 2009

Meat on the cheap

Sometimes you just need to do a little reading to realize the strange sounding cut of meat is totally edible and worthy for more than feeding to the dog.

Check out this NY Times article It May Be Cheap, But it's Also Tasty

I don't cook much meat and I tend to stick to chicken and fish, but in preparing my mole dinner I compared prices and while I like getting chicken breast fillets, the cost difference for thighs (which the recipe called for anyhow) was about 2$/ pound in savings! Next time I want to try something new perhaps I'll peruse the cheaper cuts of meat.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

To Make or to Buy?

Slate beat me to it, I will still explore this topic as I planned, but it's an interesting read.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brooklyn Homestead is online!

We are selling chocolates through Etsy! Please take a look at our shop, Brooklyn Homestead.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Slow times for blogging

In the throes of packing (yes KE, throes) and getting ready to move. My kitchen is packed up in part so that I can make sure that all my stuff is clean when it goes into boxes for 3 months. I'll be staying with my mom for 1 week then with KE for 3 weeks then I will be in Vermont, using a shared kitchen with unknown amenities. I plan to live off things from the farmers market cooked in an Alice Waters sort of way. I am bringing the following cookbooks to Vermont:

I will be on a 3 month hiatus from baking. It will be rough but I mostly have faith that I can handle it! I will also be training to run because I am going to sign up for 2 races in Ithaca int he fall (a much better time for races than the February one I flaked out on because it was like 2 degrees and I knew I'd hurt myself if I breathed in that temperature air. So KE stayed in bed - he was supposed to run too!).

I hope you look forward as much as I do to my baking free summer of fresh food experimentation! I think it will be a tasty and exciting time. I will probably bring my blender/food processor thingy too, for the making of smoothies and pestos. Fingers crossed for garlic scapes!

Get ready for a link to purchase chocolates as well, Brooklyn Homestead is almost up and running for our first batch of handmade chocolate truffles. This along with moving has been quite the busy time. Tonight is of course seafood night (Wednesdays for me and KE for the past 2 months). He has been kind enough to take the wheel of making dinner while I pack, so I don't know what we'll be having! Last week it was bay scallops!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I'll be twitting... tweeting? twitter-ing? I dunno... follow me here:

boo realizing I *could have* saved $250!

If I'd signed up for the online prescription refill through my insurance company I would have apparently saved $250 on my already expensive prescription! In the future, I will have to pay more attention to online prescription options. Even if I had to keep this pill because there isn't' a cheaper alternative, it would still be cheaper than going to the pharmacy every month (and I would get a few months filled at once instead of needing to refill it every month.) Now I'm changing insurance in 3 months so I will still save some money (except that I will be on COBRA, which is way expensive). I'm not looking forward to figuring out health insurance when I'm done with school. I also wish I'd looked into the cost of alternate pills and brought the co-pay to the attention of my doctor earlier. There has to be a cheaper/ generic alternative out there. Unfortunately I wasn't trying to think cheap before, and I paid for it, literally!

If I knew then what I know now. I could have saved $250 :(

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm so bad with leftovers. and produce. and things that get moved in the fridge

I just found out about this neat website StillTasty which tells you how long foods really last in the fridge or freezer. Opened or unopened, dependent upon the packaging. This is excellent news because I have a tendency to forget about things. Probably the most helpful thing you can do, armed with this website, is to write what date you opened packages of things like cheese with longer freshness periods.

Everybody should at least peruse this site to get an understanding of expiration dates and how long to keep that one food that doesn't look bad but has been open for a couple weeks...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Moving Preparation and Planning

I've made a list for the order in which to pack things. I have to budget my time because my last day of work is a Friday, Saturday night is my S'mores and BYOB going away party then I'm loading up the truck Sunday (with the help of some friends!) and driving away Monday. And before that, I'm working fulltime - I might need to see about leaving early a few days when the reality of the quantity of my stuff hits...

Packing list, order of operations:
  • Tv. Monitor. Cameras. Cables.
  • Camping. Hardware. Documents/ Papers.
  • Fabrics. Patterns. Art supplies.
  • Exercise equip.
  • Books. (big job, want to get all the other stuff out of the way before I start tackling this- also so I can get to the books as my table is in the way!)
  • Toiletries
  • Sewing machine (finish project ASAP!)
  • Kitchen. Clean fridge and pantry.
  • Clothes. Shoes. Towels. Sheets.
  • Computer. Hard drive. Speakers.
  • Mattress. Bed frame. Dressers. Folding table.

Brownie Break: These were the most phenomenal brownies I've ever had. I'm pretty sure- ever. Picked them up at the food co-op. Sometimes you just need a treat!

Misc. things to do for move:
  • Change of address form at post office. (You can do it online!)
  • Change Netflix address.
  • Confirm electricity is shutting off.
  • Get security deposit.
  • Confirm moving truck rental.

I did a bit of research (though not enough...) on moving trucks and budget was good because of unlimited miles as I will be also helping my mom (and splitting the cost of the truck!) to move at the same time. From Brooklyn, NY to Wilmington, DE to Seaford to Wilmington. A lot of driving and a lot of moving! It's gonna be a long couple of days!

Things I'm purging:
  • old spices
  • unused and most likely never to be used art supplies
  • those bags of clothes that have been waiting to go to salvation army for like a year
  • clean out fridge and pantry and face the fact I'm never going to eat that can of garbanzo beans
Things to do before I drive off into the... afternoon:
  • sweep and mop my room and work area
  • one last check for stray toiletries and frozen foods


I am still working on perfecting my chocolate chip cookie recipe. This creates a lot of spare cookies. So far no one seems to mind ;)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ever had a kumquat? Me neither, until now!

I never had either but KE and I decided to give them a try. With no idea how to eat them we turned to the omniscient internet and found this video which explains 'How to Eat a Kumquat'!

We bought 6 of them. They are grape sized fruits with a skin that looks like orange peel but is more thinner, like a really tough skinned tomato. The tart flavor is intense at first (and would have been alarming if not for watching that video!) and chewing made it get sweeter. There's just one seed in the middle, about the size of a pine nut.

It wasn't bad, I don't know that I would snack on them, but I am curious about what kinds of dessert they make and how they are in a jam or marmalade. I hope to attempt making jam this summer! Probably raspberry or blueberry- depending on what's available in Vermont. I wish my grandma was around to teach me to make jam. Her's was so good I asked for it for Christmas one year and she gave me 4 tubs of strawberry jam! It was my most memorable present from her :) She made raspberry for my brother, I don't know if he was expecting jam though haha!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Busy busy busy andquick and tasty shrimp fettunici alfredo

Buzz buzz buzz.

I'm moving out earlier than I thought originally, last day of work Friday May 1st, party May 2nd, Pack truck May 3rd, drive it to my mom's May 4th.

One good thing is that my mom is moving at the same time, so we are splitting the truck cost which is good. If you know someone else who is moving at the same time as you sharing the truck is a great way to save money, and have help moving your stuff!

I'm still working on a sewing project which is keeping me form really packing. This weekend will be project finishing time and next weekend I'm off to visit Ithaca, the following weekend is packing weekend and the weekend after that I'm moving! I'd better start putting my weeknight to good use.

KE and I made shrimp and fettuccine Alfredo on Seafood Wednesday - it was tasty and quick and easy.

Sautee shrimp in butter til pink, add garlic, saute for a bit.
Pour 1c half and half in and about 6 heaping Tbsp grated Parmesan. Stir cooking until it thickens. Do not boil! While that is thickening, heat water and cook pasta. Drain and put back in pot. Stir chopped fresh parsley into sauce and over noodles and serve!

We had this with asparagus. It was a tasty meal. Quick, easy and filling. Just don't forget the vegetable, or else it's not very well balanced!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tracking your eating an exercise habits

Tracking what you eat and how much you exercise is a great way to stay on top of things and keep yourself in check and shape (so long as you keep it up and review it). I've struggled with physical fitness most of my life and after graduation from college I started to focus on my health because it had been so neglected during school. Here is a bit of the chronicle of my attempt to keep track of my health improvements and slips.

I used peertrainer for more than a year (with a few times of falling off the wagon). It was great because you could just list what you ate, instead of having to fill out endless pull-down menus to choose things that vaguely represented what you ate/ made for yourself. It was up to you to make sure you were making good choices. There are groups and teams and I liked this idea however my group only had one other person in it who actually was there most of the time. We had people join, say/post nothing for a week and then leave the group. There is a hand conversation box to the side and you can see what other people in your group are eating and what exercises they are doing. If I could have found a more solid group I think I would have kept it up. I tended not to post on weekends because I wasn't sitting at a computer all day like I do on weekdays. I generally posted my dinner and snacks from the previous night on the following morning at work.

I have also used a notebook created for training and keeping track of exercises and food consumption. I liked that I could carry it all the time and even to the gym to really keep track of my weight training which I have a tendency to forget (how much weight, what exercise, how many sets). At that time I was training with a friend from work for a 5K race. I'd set a goal of 45 minutes and I beat it by about a minute and a half. This was pretty fantastic for me because in K-12 I was one of the kids who walked the mile run. I did track and field... but really just field. I watched the runners in awe of their fit bodies and ability to jump hurdles (which scare the crap out of me.) I wanted to sign up for another race, in fact my running buddy and I talked about doing a marathon (she'd already done one) but then life happened (and winter) and we fell out of running and then she became more interested in hot yoga. This notebook was I think my favorite method of tracking my weight. It wasn't so strict in what kind of information you can put in, it had spaces for weight training, cardio, vitamins, glasses of water. Probably even better would be to have a personal trainer you talk to at the beginning of using it and when you finish the book- or even once part way through.

I have also created spreadsheets with graphs to keep track of my weight in the past. (Have I mentioned that I love spreadsheets? 'cause I do.) I like seeing a graph of progress. (Being a visual person seeing a line graph was encouraging rather than having to sort through numbers.) Excel and Google Documents makes it easy to create graphs with information, all you have to do is input the information. You can even set up your chart for how ever many days you want then all you have to do is plug in your weight/ waist measurement when you take it and watch your chart update (hopefully in a downward motion!) As you can see I was doing great for a while then I fell off the wagon. I'm trying to get back on now, hence the flurry of weight related posts! That's frustrating to look at now- I hadn't opened this file since last summer. I was so close to my goal. I wonder what happened that pushed me so far off track... time to review some calendars from last year and learn more about my habits and what happened in that sharp uphill turn!

(* I just checked the dates and that was 4th of July weekend. When the holiday and the food and the family time got the best of me. I remember being really frustrated after that!)

There was a Weight Watchers free online trial for 14 days that I did two summers ago. I joined again last year for a couple months, but failed to go to a meeting because of schedule and location options. I found the website annoying to use because you had to list everything in such detail, and a lot of things weren't easy to list (this was on the points system).

Visiting KE's sister (also KE!) in Philly, I got a glimpse of Wii Fit and I loved it. It made keeping track of your weight fun and balance exercises fun (which is something I really need to work on as my main goal for getting in shape is to be a better snowboarder). Unfortunately I don't have a Wii Console, I'm keeping my eye out for deals though! Perhaps I'll get one for myself when I'm at grad school... hmm....

Now that I've pulled that graph out from the past I'm excited to get back to my lower weight. I've just signed up for another online tracker- this one is weight and waistline tracking at RealAge. This site was suggested to me by a friend who knows I get a high of tracking things and charts and graphs and visualizers of success. I've just joined and input my goals and starting date information. Time to get back on track! I'm excited, are you excited!? Woot!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spagetti! Cheap and tasty dinner (for 2)

Making dinner for E and myself; our weekly dinner together- scheduled to avoid over-scheduling with significant others ;)

I decided to make tomato sauce and a side of sauteed zucchini, I almost put the zucchini, grated, in the sauce, but then I didn't want to dilute the flavor of the zucchini so decided to serve it as the vegetable.

I didn't have pasta but I had left over onion and some baby carrots. I spent $5 on stuff to feed 2 people (and there is still half a box of pasta left).

Saute small diced onions and chopped carrots in olive oil until onions are translucent and carrots are soft, add garlic, stir stir stir.

Pour in one small box of crushed or strained tomatoes (I prefer crushed, strained which I accidentally got, are too watery), let simmer while you cook the pasta in salted water.

The side was sauteed zucchini thin sliced coins in olive oil with garlic and a sliced up cibatta from the bakery (that was $1, we split it.)

Five of our 6 ceiling lights are out, so we ate a candle lit dinner :)
Ooo, you can see the steam!

Great relief for dry hands

My hands are dry most of the time during winter. It's been happening since I moved out East- itchy to the point of being red with dry crevices cracks running along all the small lines on my hands. I have tried every over-the-counter lotion I can find. For a while Eucerin did the trick but it just doesn't cut it. It doesn't help that when I cook I wash my hands about 10 times. What makes hands dry is lack of oils and so far the best relief I have found is rubbing olive oil on the dry skin. It replaces the oil that is lost through regular washing and brings back the softness. It doesn't itch either. To keep my fingertips clear of oil I pour a little bit of oil at the base of my thumb on the back of my hand and proceed to rub together the backs of my hands. Then I light rise for my fingertips and my hands feel good as new! It's great because it's natural and it's replacing oil. Nothing foreign about that concept!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Get a library card. There are many books you can read once and do not need to reference again. Beware of late fees piling up though! Most large metropolitan libraries will allow you to renew online. Your savings by borrowing books will be nil if you end up paying exorbitant late fees. SO be sure to mark the book due date in your calendar as son as you check out the books. If someone else has the book on hold you won't be able to renew it. You can hold it longer but you will have to pay for it. Libraries are a great place to get movies, audio books (which you can then put on your ipod and the latest hardback book that you would buy if it was cheaper.

I read a lot of non-fiction so there aren't as many books available to me as say people who read a lot of best sellers or Oprah book club books. I got myself an amazon credit cad, so when I spend money, I slowly earn amazon gift cards. This is great because by putting things I normally buy on a credit card (and paying it off asap) I earn books. So I get my book buying fix (which some have called "a problem") but don't spend much more than I would without having purchased the books. Also if you are seeking a book that is out of print or you want a used version, an excellent resourse is addall's used book search or, how I got a recent book purchase, is to sign up on powells for a book alert. When my book arrived I got an email and was able to purchase it rightaway.

I'm looking forward to reading books I purchased recently and reviewing them here, keep an eye out for them this summer!