Thursday, December 30, 2010
For me, there are better choices.
Many of those who read my blog or facebook page know that I use coupons and deals to maximize my grocery dollar.
Recently I heard about a new show airing this week on TLC called "Extreme Couponing." At first, I was excited. I thought the show might focus on methods, such as the ones I use, which cut my food bills about 50-70% on average.
But, it doesn't.
Rather it shows hoarding - compulsive buying of TP and toothbrushes, enough to supply the average homeless center or Boy Scout Jamboree for a few years.
TLC's program shows a woman dumpster diving for coupon flyers with her son - and her pregnant friend.
*insert sound of tire brakes here*
There are limits.
You CAN save 50%-70% each time you shop using ethical, healthy tips.
My hubby just rebuilt my dilapidated linen closet and we're using it as a food pantry. It's only 10 inches deep, but it's 8 feet wide. I was surprised to find that even with my wacky couponing ways - the shelves are NOT completely filled. And, that's not even a goal.
If you are in the Chicagoland area, you have a fantastic resource in Jill Cataldo's Super-Couponing site. Jill rocks - and she's been featured on Nightline - showing how you can buy meat and organic veggies using coupons and saving big.
(I'm a big fan of Jill and I use her site to plan my shopping trips each week. I've also attended one of her free coupon classes in a local library and I'll be attending one of her free "level 2" classes later this month. And, if you aren't in the area but want to learn Jill's tips, you can buy a DVD off her site or head to You Tube for free videos.)
If you live in the South, head over to Jenny's Southern Savers site. No, her classes aren't free. But, her site is. Great resource.
Will I tune in to the TLC show?
Sure. My DVR is already recording it.
But, I hope that obsessive hoarding isn't what most people take away from the show. Rather I hope folks see that you can stockpile a REASONABLE AMOUNT of food and personal health care products, taking advantage of cyclical manufacture offers, and save LOTS of money for YOUR FAMILY.
Isn't that the key?
Feeding your family healthy foods for less?
Thank goodness there are folks like Jill and Jenny around to show you the ropes.
Now I'm going to try to embed a video or two showing a preview of the TLC show. I'm not sure it's going to work. And, even if it does, chances are TLC will eventually pull the vid. But, until they do, it's a sad look into the dark side "Extreme Couponing."
Top image from TLC's "Extreme Couponing" used under Creative Commons license.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
The night before, there was a tragedy which affected a few of the invited.
Our hearts were with them as they did what they needed to.
It put a solemn touch on the day. But, I think it just underlined the important of focusing on loving those around us. Never taking a moment for granted. Our family knows that all too well.
Yet, there was food on the stove and people on their way...
Once the folks who could attend had arrived and coats were off, I looked around. The standing light in the corner was wrapped in greenery and little rustic twine ornaments of red and brown balls with white lights shining through them.
twine wrapped candles giving the room a warm glow. And, lastly there was food galore and, courtesy of Eli, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" was playing quietly on the TV.
We laughed and ate.
And, at one point all of the adults were watching Charlie Brown. Who can resist Linus? "I know the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown!"
It was warm. And, wonderful.
And, I thought of you.
I wouldn't know "how" to make such a loving Christmas without all those years spent at your home.
Posted by Dana @ Cooking At Cafe D at 11:43 AM
Thursday, December 16, 2010
A while back, I did a list of 10 of my favorite things - and they haven't changed!
So, here's a re-run. Hope you enjoy it!
I figure if Oprah can have a list, I can, too.
So, here are 10 kitchen items things that I truly love.
Dawn Direct Foam
I truly love this stuff. It's not a traditional dish soap that you pour into water to produce bubbles. Instead you squeeze it onto a damp (but not sopping wet sponge) and scrub your wet dishes. It's dissolves grease like magic and gets the orange stains out of your plastic ware! The less water you use the better. And, one soapy sponge will clean lots of dishes. Then simply rinse everything off. Be sure to get all the foam off.
It's a whole way of doing dishes. And, it's really worth the try.
(Just do NOT think use it like regular dish soap. It's not the same.)
Leifheit Pro Line Stainless Steel Cherry/Olive Pitter
I pit a lot of olives and this is a lifesaver. I can pit a pound of Kalamatas in no time flat. It can supposedly be used for cherries, too, but I haven't tried that. Now, I will offer a disclaimer that folks have reported that the pin falls out. (Maybe the small cherry pit makes the pit hit off-center?)
I can absolutely say that I have pitted more than my fair share of large pitted Kalamata olives and my pitter is in perfect shape. (Oh, and the pitter comes with a little plastic "closer" that keeps the pitter, well...closed. Perhaps the pin can get damaged by leaving the pitter rolling around in their drawers?) I swear by my olive pitter.
I bought some generic yellow one from Linens and Things and I love it. But, if I had to buy one again, I would prolly try this Norpro Stainless Steel Press. One quick squeeze and your done. (You place the citrus half in upside down. Then when you squeeze, it turns the flesh and rind inside out.) Whether it's orange juice for cookies or lime juice for mojitos, my citrus squeezer gets a lot of use. (I first saw one on chef Rick Bayless' TV show. Thanks, Rick!)
Microplane Stainless Steel Zester
From orange, lemon, and lime zest to nutmeg, and chocolate, this little zester is a handy-dandy multi-tasker. While you *could* buy a microplane with a handle, this model is my favorite.
Bbecause if you are grating, say nutmeg, and you want to measure it, simply slip the plastic cover on backwards. The filings will fall into the plastic sleeve. Then you can just slide them into your measuring spoon. Granted, I don't often get the urge to measure my nutmeg, but I like the ability to do it if the mood strikes. *wink*
At the suggestion of Alton Brown, I bought my first half-sheet pans at my local commercial kitchen supply store. They were 5 bucks each. Three years later they are still going strong. Love 'em. I can bake up a whole pound of bacon to a perfect crispness on these. Yum.
This grate, obviously, goes with the pans. Perfect pairing.
Digital instant-read thermometer (waterproof)
This isn't the exact model I have, but you get the idea. (I wish mine were waterproof.) If you don't already have one, get yourself a nice digital thermometer with large numbers. This one doesn't stay in the oven - it's more for temp'ing on the fly - like a nice pork tenderloin on the grill. Open the lid, temp it, pull the pork, let it rest, indulge...
Digital thermometer with timer
Again, not exactly my model. But, my model is currently $99 on Amazon. (And, no I didn't pay that. I paid about $25.) This type of thermometer stays in the oven - well, at least the probe end does. You set the temp you want, like 151 for a turkey, and then the thermometer will beep when the temp has been reached. (No, you won't eat the turkey at 151, but carry-over should take it to 165.) There is also a timer and a nice long cord that extends out of the oven and (hopefully) on the back it has a magnet, so you can just *stick* it on the oven while you wait for the turkey to come up to temp. It's a true "Set it and forget it" Ha! :)
Silpat (11-5/8 by 16-1/2 inch)
From cookies, to brittle - I use this almost daily. Forget foil or parchment paper - or those expensive "thermal" cooking sheets. I never made a cookie that tasted good until I used my Silpat. (There's also a knock off brand that works well, too.)
A note about Silpats:
They come in many different sizes - I have found Amazon to be a great resource. Be sure you measure your half sheet pans or cookie sheets to get the best fit possible.
Kitchen Grips oven mitts (Extra long)
These mitts rock. If you've ever pulled a pan with juice to the rim out of the oven, you've wished for longer mitts. These are safe to 500 the company says. (Actually, I found they tend to track/melt the red color onto my pans at about 475.) Even at 475 I can't feel a bit of heat through the glove. They are absolutely wonderful. (Note: Looks like the Kitchen Grips are currently unavailable. But, the Duncan Euro Design, Extra Length Mitts look comparable.)
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
15 years later, I remember two things she said.
The first tip was "String the lights in top to bottom in sections rather than round and round. That way, if one strand goes bad, you only have to replace that section. You don't have to unwind the entire tree."
Dana's bonus tip: If you light it that way, all the plugs can be at the bottom in a hidden surge protector.
Her second tip was "Only use 25 foot strings of lights. The reason? She said that all Christmas lights we manufactured in 25 foot segments. So for example, a 100 foot strand really has 4-25 foot segments - which has more points of failure at the connections."
As a professional decorator, she NEVER wanted a light failure - not only because it would look bad, literally and figuratively, but also because it would cost too much in labor to undo and redo a tree.
Hope those tips help.
Now, as for what to hang after those lights to on? How about some nice rustic Christmas ornaments?
I'm offering a 25% off sale to my blog readers! And this includes my entire Etsy store at CafeD.etsy.com Simply include the phrase "BLOGLOVE25" without the quotes during checkout.
Here are some of the items available.
Have fun shopping!