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Daily Archives: November 19, 2012

Significant Birthdays

Sort of significant. Not the divisible by five ones, like 55 or 60. Those are the ones we celebrate by going out to dinner. Otherwise, I make a simple tasty meal with a killer wine for a fraction of the restaurant cost.

Today was sort of significant for my husband. Sixty two. Old enough to receive Social Security. That is a milestone. He was out all day with his radio buddies, fixing cable on the towers used for field day. They did bring him cupcakes to celebrate. I knew he would be out all day, so I just made one of those simple dinners with first class ingredients.

Anyone can make something this easy. The food cost me less than $25 total for the two of us. The wine, a splurge, RdV Rendezvous. Still dinner for under three figures. Find somewhere that serves petite filet this good, for $12 a person. Please let me know if you do.

The salad was microgreens, arugula, radishes and tomatoes, with a bleu cheese dressing. Steamed broccoli with the same dressing. Filets from Harris Teeter. They really looked good when I was there last week. These were fork tender steaks. Pan seared, then finished in the oven. Nothing but garlic powder, salt, pepper. and balsamic on them before cooking. Put in the hot pan from room temperature. Then, about 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven to cook to medium rare.

The 2009 RdV Rendezvous was just this amazingly huge wine. Dark, deep, full of tannin and with a very long finish. Perfect with the beef.

Later on tonight, I will open a late harvest Petit Manseng with some aged Parmesan, for dessert. No more sweets today. The wine with the cheese is a great pairing, and a very good dessert for us. The wine is a 2005, from Linden. Here’s to sort of significant birthdays.


Costco Revisited

I have to admit, with all the new stores, and the changes I have made to cooking from scratch, I seem to have abandoned Costco. Not that it is such a bad thing. But, it surely shows that bulk buying is no longer part of my food budget.

We got our rebate check last week. It was roughly half of last year’s check, and didn’t cover the difference between basic membership, and the more expensive rebate membership. It looks like we will be changing our level when I renew.

From a produce standpoint, they have never been a good deal for me. Too many times, produce went bad far quicker than what we bought in the grocery stores, and now that we have almost year round CSA membership, I definitely can tell the difference. Everything we get from our CSA lasts longer, since it was picked one or two days before we receive it. Greens stored in our spinner can last up to two weeks, without turning or going all slimy on me.

I was there on Friday. We needed batteries and printer cartridges. I also wanted to pick up a few baking supplies to make Christmas cookies. I did end up finding one of the best deals for me there. The ends of wild ahi. They don’t always have it.

I like to buy it this way, then portion it out into meal sized medallions and one long strip suitable for slow cooking in tomato sauce in the oven. I get four or five meals from one of these. I use Costco’s cling wrap to put the individual portions into, and then put it all in a freezer bag. It does minimize any sort of drying out, and freezer burn.

The other staple in my pantry that I still buy in bulk there is the Pacific brand low sodium organic chicken stock. I use it often. It is the base for some of my couscous dishes. For risotto. A little in the bottom of a pan when I am deglazing it after sauteeing something. It is always in my fridge. My good homemade stocks are reserved for soups. These soups are 6 for $12 at Costco. Way less expensive than Roots. As for other grocery stores, they don’t all carry the low sodium one.

This last visit, I went in and checked out the produce. A good deal is only a good deal when it doesn’t get rotten. I can’t see buying a dozen cucumbers, or a huge bag of fruit.

We now have CSA pickups 42 weeks of the year. It will be interesting to see what I find around here from New Years until the beginning of March when we start up with Breezy Willow. I may be doing quite a bit of shopping at Roots, or head over to Wegmans to check out their winter organic produce. Thankfully, Olney will have their Sunday market starting in January, and weekly visits to Breezy Willow and TLV will keep me in eggs and meat.

Now that I have made the switch to minimize processed foods, unless we need to put tires on my husband’s car, it makes no sense to keep the more expensive membership at Costco. I suppose we have finally gone beyond the acquiring stage of our lives, and are moving into divesting ourselves of things. It was nice to get my camera, and my husband’s laptop there. As for food and clothes, we have cut back the purchases there. Books. Nope. Software, too. Christmas. We all made a pact. No more gifting. We are rightsizing these days.

I do still go there for vitamins, allergy pills and basic drug store stuff like Tylenol. Toothbrush heads. Toothpaste. Things we use daily and that make sense to buy at their better prices.

This is such a change from how I shopped ten years ago. I have to admit I didn’t think I could be so different when it comes to finding those “bargains”. Nowadays, to me, this is the bargain. A box full of just picked goodness. Can’t wait to see what we get tomorrow.