Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This week's grocery specials
Via Foods (on 5th Street just west of East Avenue) has T-bones for $3.98 lb. A 5 lb. bag of red potatoes is $1.99. Roma tomatoes are .89 lb. Sweet potatoes are 2 lbs. for .99. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are $1.98 lb. Limes are .10 each and a pitcher of limeade sounds good right now. Since none of these are buy-one-get-one-frees, Wal-mart will honor their prices.
Because of the sale on ground chuck at Winn Dixie, this would be a good time to plan ahead and stock the freezer with meatballs, meatloaves, taco meat, spaghetti sauce, chili, taco soup and/or minestrone. Autumn is on the way, with friends and family dropping over, evenings spent Christmas shopping, and late nights watching fall ball and lots more. Won't it be nice to grab a gallon size zip-top bag of homemade chili or soup out of the freezer? Thaw it in the bottom drawer of the fridge overnight or micro-defrost it the day you need it.
What is the difference between ground beef and ground chuck? The most common answer is the amount of fat: ground beef can be up to 30% fat, while ground chuck is 20% or less. That's about a third shrinkage with g.bf. and a fifth with g.ck. But to me the most important difference is ground chuck is literally ground from the chuck (shoulder). Ground beef is ground from beef with no designated section (this is the part where you use your imagination). If the product is labeled "hamburger," that means other beef fat can be added into it.
I think it's important to choose ground meat from a store you trust. Not all meat men have the same integrity; not all stores have the same standards. The more something is ground, the more surface area is opened up, the more chance for bacteria. That's a good reason to keep it very cold and use it quickly. And please, do not thaw it all day in your sink. That's just scary.
Other sales that make me happy this week are some of the fresh veggies at Publix: green beans, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, and okra, all .99 lb. Grilled vegetables are so versatile: you can eat them as they are, put them in panini sandwiches, make soup out of them, put them on pizza, make vegetable lasagna. I love to make ratatouille, and I am thankful for the movie because I used to say, "ratatouille," and got blank stares. If you haven't had it, it's a vegetable stew with tomatoes, garlic, zucchini, eggplant, onions, bell peppers, and herbs. To me, it's tastes like late summer in a bowl. Another great dish to make when eggplant is on sale is Baba Ghanoush, the middle Eastern eggplant dip.
A few ideas for yellow squash: it's lovely raw and cubed in pasta salad; sauteed the Southern way with onions (I let it brown a little); sliced into ribbons with zucchini for a great side dish; put into a cheesy yellow squash casserole with crumbs on top; or made into yellow squash-lemon soup (ala Sweet Magnolia's).
Winn Dixie has their chunk cheese on sale, $2.99 per pound (it's buy-one-get-one-free). Of course if you choose two 6 oz. packages instead of two 8 oz. packages, it's $4 a pound, not $3. So be sure to choose eight ounce packages. These can be frozen and used later, especially in cooking since they tend to crumble when thawed.
Winn Dixie's lettuces are .88 lb., making it a nice week for salads.
Green beans are sort of a friendly vegetable. I like to bring a large pot of water to boil and add a tablespoon of salt. While that's heating up, I snap the stem ends off, and fill a large bowl with a little ice and lots of water. When the water is boiling, put the green beans in (up to about two pounds at a time) and let it reboil. Boil for three minutes or so. Meanwhile get a colander ready in the sink. Drain the beans into the colander (or fish them out with tongs) and place them in the ice water. Let them chill for a bit, then drain them well. I roll them in paper towels and put them in a large zip-top bag, and refrigerate them. I use them within a few days. All they really need is reheated in a hot skillet with some butter or olive oil for a few minutes. Great in stir-fries, too.
Winn Dixie has Gain laundry detergent for $4.99. The best value is the 40-load powder. I use a sharpie and draw a line on the scoop where it says "large load." Winn Dixie also has Chock Full o' Nuts coffee buy-one-get-one-free at $4.79 for two.
I don't like to spend the money on vegetable broth or chicken broth in cans or cartons, and I need broth to make all kinds of soups and stews. I haven't made chicken broth in a slow cooker yet, because I usually make larger quantities, but I recently made vegetable broth and it was easy and good. I just put a cut onion, a few garlic cloves, a broken stalk of celery, a cut carrot, a bay leaf, a few parsley springs, and a few grinds of pepper into my slow cooker. I cooked it all night on low but later I put it on high and cooked it a few more hours, so next time, I'm just going to start it on high for six or eight hours. Then I cooled it and discarded all the solids. Remember, when making stock, there's no need to peel the onions or carrots or anything...just be sure everything is clean.