Monday, December 17, 2012

Uzi vs. Oozy . . . Automatic Weapons and French Cheese

There's an interesting article in Huffington Post this morning:  "Automatic Weapons vs. French Cheese:  Which Is Easier To Buy In The U.S.?"

This is a particularly sore topic in the wake of a horrifying school shooting in Connecticut.  Guns and gun control is the topic du jour.

I'm not going to air my feelings on gun control.  But I am going to air my feelings on cheese control and the prohibition of the sale of raw milk.  Basically, my opinion can be summed up in two words:  It sucks.

Yes, you can conceivably get various diseases from raw milk.  You can also get salmonella from raw eggs or raw chicken (commercial or otherwise), but there's no prohibition against any backyard poultry producer selling you raw eggs or chicken.  There's certainly nothing stopping large-scale commercial poultry and egg companies from selling you the least hygienically-raised eggs and chicken money can buy, and we blithely take those home every day.  Groceries sell us spinach and green onions and strawberries that may or may not be infected with e. coli.  Convenience stores sell us cigarettes that are extensively proven very, very definitely harmful.  But I can't buy a gallon of raw milk or a flavorful raw-milk cheese aged less than 60 days because there's a remote possibility that if the producer isn't observing good standards of cleanliness at his facility, it might contain harmful bacteria.

The typical response to this is:  Well, hey, pasteurized milk cheeses are delicious.  So are cheeses aged over 60 days.  What's the big deal?

As somebody who has actually eaten artisanal, unpasteurized Brie de Meaux, I can tell you that, yes, it is a big deal.  It's the difference between a Monet and a Xerox copy of a print of a Monet.  It's the difference between a really great bottle of wine and Mogen David.  It's the difference between a juicy, seared, well-seasoned burger fresh off the grill and a mystery meat patty from McDonald's that's sat under heat lamps for an hour.

The artisanal foods movement is a big and growing concern.  Small wineries, microbreweries, artisanal breads, and green markets selling organically grown produce, free-range chicken, pastured meats, all face their own challenges in competing against the big commercial concerns.  Their goods cost more than commercial, mass-produced equivalents.  There's no way around that.  Therefore, they have to offer something the commercial producers can't -- better flavor, better nutrition, a clean conscience about the living conditions of your meat or the environmental impact, whatever.

The artisanal cheese industry, however, is also disadvantaged by the War On Raw Milk.  This seriously limits the cheeses that can be produced and "dumbs down" the flavor of these artisanal cheeses.  Imagine artisanal vintners being told, "You can make all the wine you want, but you can only use white grapes.  Hey, why are you complaining?  What's wrong with white wine?"

If the government is really that worried about the dangers of raw milk and raw milk cheeses, why not just require a warning label sticker?  "Warning:  This product contains unpasteurized milk.  Unpasteurized milk can contain dangerous bacteria and can cause diseases such as listeria."  (Never mind that eggs and raw chicken and other foods aren't required to carry such labels.)  Heck, I'd be more than willing to sign a liability waiver for my cheesemonger.

Just one last point.  I've never heard of anyone killing anyone else using gooey, rich, unpasteurized cheese as a murder weapon.  It may well have happened in the history of the world, but frankly, I find those odds more than acceptable.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Vegetarians beware! All others, prepare to drool!

Grilled steaks in mid-December?

Hell, yes!

We have a remarkable and unusual concatenation of events here.  First, it's unseasonably warm for December -- today's high, 56 degrees.  Second, by a remarkable coincidence, the little oddball IGA nearby had whole ribeyes on sale for $3.99 a pound (the whole ribeyes on sale happens about every couple months there, although last time they were $4.99).

We bought a whole ribeye and cut it up -- part into a beautiful big roast, the rest into monster steaks almost 2" thick.  These were actually really great ribeyes, well marbled with a lot of fat.  And because it's so warm out, we decided to have Paul's infamous grilled steaks in the middle of December.

Now, let me put in a word here about Paul's steaks.  My husband is justly famous for his steaks.  I've literally never had a steak better than his.  We ate at the famous St. Elmo's here in Indianapolis and the steaks were no better than his (just a whole lot more expensive).  Everyone who knows Paul starts to salivate at the mention of his steaks.

We start with really thick steaks because Paul and I like our steaks on the rare end of medium rare -- heck, when asked how I like my steak, I usually say, "Just walk it through a warm room."  BUT we also like our steak nicely charred on the outside.  Hence, thick steaks.

Paul seasoned the steaks with his seasoning mix du jour -- it varies with his mood -- and drizzled them with a little olive oil while the grill heated up HOT.  When he put those babies on, the flames shot up high!  I cooked the veg while Paul put our steaks through the hellfire.  He later showed me his arm -- he'd managed to singe all the hair on his forearm!

Paul then called me out to gauge doneness, because even after years and years of cooking steaks, he can't tell when they're done.

For those of you who don't want to have to call the spouse to come over and check the steaks, here's an excellent tutorial on how to judge the doneness of your steak without poking disastrous, juice-leaking holes in it:

You want to take your steak off the grill a little bit before it's completely done to your liking, because it will continue to cook after you take it off.  The thicker the steak, the longer it will continue cooking.  Also, if you're like us and really like the outside a bit charred, that makes gauging the doneness a little more tricky, so there is something of an art to it, I'll admit.  At any rate, Paul has the knack of cooking steaks.  I have the knack of divining doneness.  We make a good team.

Put your steaks on a warmed platter and let them rest at least five minutes, ten if they're really thick.  This is crucial.  Let them rest undisturbed.  Otherwise, they won't finish cooking, and when you cut into them, the juices will leak out everywhere instead of remaining in the meat.

Paul's steaks today were perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  The pinnacle of steak perfection to which all steaks should aspire.  The outside was nicely charred, the inside was medium rare to rare, every juicy morsel tender and seasoned to eye-rolling deliciousness.  It's a common misconception that people on Atkins live on steaks, and today of all days I'd be pretty much okay with that.

As Paul would say, "Not bad for $3.99 a pound."

In a few days I'll try, TRY, to make a prime rib roast that measures up to those steaks (I'd really have preferred bone-in, but there you are), but I'm telling you, the memory of those steaks will have me drooling until the next warm spell.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Anne's Going Renegade!!!

Hey, folks.

You may notice me becoming less visible (or invisible) on the low-carb lists.  I'm not going to give any specifics because saying negative things about others is absolutely not me, but some things have upset me and I'm kind of undecided as to where I go from here.  Arguing and complaining and bringing negativity to a list is something I just refuse to do, so I'm going to just lurk for a while and see how I feel later.

At any rate, I feel like there's room out there for another low-carb list with a different slant, so in the spirit of all those people who have ever been told, "If you don't like [insert mood/policy/rule here], why don't you go start your own list?"  Well, I'm doing it!  Please feel welcome to join me at LCNoStress:

I hope to see all my low carb friends and hopefully plenty of new faces, too!


Anne Logston

Sunday, October 28, 2012

In Honor of Halloween: The Zombie Apocalypse Zero-Carb Diet

For all you walking dead out there for whom the weight isn't falling off (heh heh) quite fast enough, here's a few tips on zero carbing for the Halloween season!

1.  Beware of organ meats.  Liver actually contains carbs, did you know that?  Indulge in moderation if you wish to keep your svelte, gaunt look.

2.  Net carbs versus no carbs.  You get to subtract fiber!  This means if you accidentally ingest some clothing or the odd bit of jewelry, you don't have to count the extra carbs.

3.  Walk it off!  Exercise is a good thing, even though a slow shambling pace doesn't burn off a lot of calories.  But moving around has additional benefits, because every little bit that falls off means less weight!

4.  Chew the fat.  Did you know that bone marrow and brains have very high fat content?  Or that raw meat contains absolutely no trans fats?

5.  Dodge diabetes.  Beware not only of Halloween candy, but of people who have overindulged in Halloween candy.  The blood of diabetics is high in glucose.  Glucose is sugar.  Sugar is bad.  Therefore, eating people who are full of sugar is bad.  Don't do it.

6.  Okay . . . it happens.  Zombies lose bits and pieces, and meat takes teeth to chew.  If necessary, you may have to resort to meat grinders or a Vitamix blender.  Both of which have buttons.  So my advice is, don't lose your fingers.

7.  Only water is water.  However, zombies don't drink water, so . . . who cares?

8.  Never accept apples on Halloween.  Apples are carby.  Besides, razor blades happen, and that's just unacceptable.  Real zombies do not floss.

And finally:

9.  Sharing is caring.  Broaden your social circle and exercise portion control at the same time.  Bring a dozen friends and share.  Zombies who meet together, eat together!

Have a happy, healthy and carb-free undead Halloween!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Frugal Low Carber: Say Cheeeeeeeese!

I was just watching a commercial that actually got me thinking -- and not in a good way.  The commercial was for the new Kraft shredded cheese with Philadelphia Cream Cheese added to it to make it creamier.  There are a couple cheeses it's been added to, but the primary one is mozzarella.

Now, at first glance, this sounds great.  But take a deeper look.  First, you're starting with regular old part-skim mozzarella.  I am not a big fan of part-skim mozzarella.  It doesn't melt smoothly, it's very stringy and easily picks up a kind of acrid flavor.  Most of the problems are due to the lack of fat.  (And as a low carber, the words "low fat" or "part skim" should be sending up red flags to begin with.)  So now Kraft is going to remedy that by adding cream cheese.

Well, pardon me, but bullshit.

If you want to add cream cheese to your recipe, add it.  Yourself.  It's cheaper for you, better tasting, and you have control over the proportions.

However, there's a better option.  Buy whole milk mozzarella.  It isn't nearly as easy to find, and you have to plan ahead, but it's far from impossible and you'll be amazed at the difference.  If you have a Gordon's Food Service (GFS), you can buy whole milk mozzarella in big loafs, which they will slice for you at no extra charge.  Many Sam's Clubs also carry whole milk mozzarella.

There are many advantages to whole milk mozzarella.  First and foremost, it tastes better.  It's delicious to eat just out of hand and even better cut in cubes and marinated in seasoned olive oil.  It melts much better than part skim, is less stringy and much more creamy, and glory hallelujah, you can actually reheat it without it turning into leather.

Also, unlike pretty much every other cheese in the world, you can freeze whole milk mozzarella, whereas part skim mozzarella, frozen and thawed, is not a good thing.  I vacuum seal packages (or sometimes just put them in ziploc freezer bags and squeeze out all the air) in about 1-pound slabs of slices and freeze them, and they thaw out nice and ready to use.  (I should add here that sliced or cubed mozzarella melts better and less stringily than shreds.  Go figure.)

Finally, you need to be cautious with grocery store shredded cheese.  It often contains starch to keep it from clumping.  Not only does this add unnecessary carbs, but the additives can change the consistency of cheese sauces.  Furthermore, shredded cheese molds faster and the mold can be hiding in the middle of the package where you won't see it till you've already dumped that cheese into your casserole.  Now, I'm not telling you not to buy shredded cheese -- I do, and I use it, too.  I'm just saying read the labels, Grasshopper, and be careful of it.

Parmesan is a cheese of many faces.  At the bottom of the quality scale is the stuff in the green can.  Next up from there is shredded parmesan.  Then chunks of "parmesan cheese," and at the top, real genuine Parmigiano Reggiano.  All have their uses, but don't get them confused.

Parmesan cheese starts losing flavor when it's grated, so I use the pre-grated stuff in the can specifically when I want less flavor -- in my beloved Joel's Magic Pizza Crust, and in low carb breadings, where a more neutral flavor is a good thing.  The shredded parmesan is fine for toppings and casseroles and the like -- it tastes nothing like genuine Parmigiano Reggiano, but it's fine in its own right.  I rarely buy grocery store chunk parmesan.  Real chunk Parmigiano Reggiano doesn't cost much more per pound (I buy from and the difference in flavor is incredible -- a little goes a long ways.  Every person who claims to like cheese should once in their life eat a bite-sized chunk of real Parmigiano Reggiano.  It'll alter your reality.

Do not try to freeze parmesan in any form.  It will take on a cottony texture and a sawdust flavor.

Think outside the bag.  There are a whole lot of cheeses out there besides cheddar, "swiss", monterey jack and mozzarella.  Instead of mozzarella, try provolone.  Instead of parmesan, try asiago.  Instead of cheddar, try edam or gouda.  Instead of monterey jack, try havarti or fontina.  Instead of "swiss," try gruyere or emmental.

If you happen to live near a Trader Joe's, they're a decent source for a large variety of reasonably priced cheeses to let you experiment.  Do read the label -- oftentimes I can buy cheese cheaper online at  Gourmet cheese shops are particularly bad in this regard.

Okay, that's my cheese tips for the day.  As usual, read the label!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Frugal Low Carber: One ham, six recipes

We're in the fall stretch, and with fall comes hams on sale at the grocery store.  I can get them as low as 77 cents a pound.  We're talking normal Kroger Cook's brand shank or butt portions, bone in (because I do not buy boneless or rolled or other sham ham).  I don't give a ham salad recipe because I don't like ham salad!

Recipe 1:  Basic Crockpot Ham

Start with one cheap bone-in ham that will fit in, but pretty snugly, your crockpot.  You also need one bottle or can of hard cider, such as Woodchuck or Strongbow or whatever.  Yes, the cider has some carbs.  Trust me, what you're going to consume will be negligible at any given time.

Wedge the ham into the crockpot.  Pour the cider around the ham.  Cover tightly.  Cook on low for anywhere from six to eight hours, depending on whether you want to be able to slice the ham or whether you like it to fall apart in chunks like I do.

Remove the ham from the crockpot and save the liquid.  This is the most incredible ham stock ever and we're going to use it.  Pour the stock hot into a bowl or Tupperware container and chill.  Use the ham stock for making greens (below) or in soups, stews, beans, etc.  The layer of fat that forms and hardens on top of the stock can be used just like bacon grease.  Don't waste it.  You can also freeze the stock (fat layer removed) for later use.

Pick over the ham.  If you have a use for the chunks of ham fat and/or skin, by all means, keep them.  You now have extremely tasty, tender ham that's ready to serve.

Note to pet owners:  Please don't give ham or any of its byproducts such as fat, skin, or cooked bones to your pets.  The bones will be brittle and easy to splinter.  The high fat content PLUS the sodium is a severe danger to your dogs or cats and can cause pancreatitis.  Please, please remember:  Animals are NOT geared to handle high sodium levels, particularly when coupled with fat.  Fat alone is fine for a healthy pet; fat plus sodium is very bad.  Please don't give your pets ham leftovers.

Recipe 2:  Heavenly Hammy Greens

You need:

2 bags collard, turnip or beet greens
1 onion, chopped
2T bacon grease or rendered fat from the ham stock bowl
1/3c ham stock
2T apple cider vinegar
1/4 - 1/2t crushed red pepper (optional)
1 packet Splenda (optional)
1/2t salt or to taste
Chopped ham to your preference

Melt the bacon grease or ham fat in a large, heavy pot over medium high heat.  Add the onions and saute until onions are translucent and softened, about 5 minutes.

Add greens in batches, tossing thoroughly with the bacon grease and adding more as they wilt down, until all are added.  Add ham stock, vinegar, red pepper, Splenda and salt. 

If using collard greens, add the ham to your desired degree of hamminess -- more for a main dish, less for a side, whatever.  Lower heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, until greens are tender.  If using turnip, beet or other tender greens, add ham and simmer briefly, until greens are tender.  Remove from heat and pour off cooking liquid into a saucepan.  Place saucepan over medium high heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 15-20 minutes.  Return to greens and ham.

Recipe 3:  Hammy Mac

You'll need:

4 packages shirataki macaroni (I use House Brand, but use the shirataki brand and shape of your choice, rinsed thoroughly and drained
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream plus more
2c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Additives of choice (see note)
2c or more chopped ham

Simmer shirataki in salted water for about 20 minutes to improve the texture (optional) and drain very thoroughly.  If possible, leave sitting in a colander for a half hour.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the cream cheese with 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream over medium low heat.  Add shredded cheddar cheese and whatever else you like in your mac and cheese -- I tend to add Old Bay seasoning or a little mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Let melt slowly, stirring occasionally, until cheese sauce is smooth.  Add ham and cheese sauce to macaroni, tossing to coat thoroughly, adding a little more cream if the sauce is too thick, but make this adjustment after adding shirataki in case they "sweat" liquid into your sauce.

If desired, this dish can be baked briefly with slivered almonds or pork rind crumbs on top.

Recipe 4:  Ham and Gruyere Crustless Quiche

This will make two quiches if you're using nonstick round cake pans like I do.  If you only want one, halve it.

You'll need:

1T bacon grease or rendered ham fat
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 leeks, thinly sliced
8 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
3c finely chopped ham
3c heavy cream
6 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste 

Melt the bacon grease or ham fat in a heavy skillet.  Saute the onions until they begin to brown.  Add leeks, saute briefly.  Reduce heat to low, cover the skillet tightly, and walk away from it for 20 minutes to let the leeks steam.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425.

Divide cheese and ham between two nonstick round cake pans (8 or 9-inch diameter doesn't really matter).  Whisk eggs and cream together in a bowl, adding salt and pepper, and divide egg mixture evenly between the two pans.  Divide the leek/onion mixture between the two pans.  Stir both pans to distribute ingredients evenly.

Bake the quiches at 425 for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 300 and bake for 30 minutes, or until a a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with no liquid egg on it.  Let the quiches rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Recipe 5:  Hammy Cabbage Skillet

You'll need:

1 head cabbage
3T bacon grease or ham grease
2T apple cider vinegar
1 packet Splenda
2c chopped ham
Salt and pepper to taste

Core the cabbage and cut it into bite-sized squares:  Cut into 1-inch-thick slabs, then cut the slabs into 1-inch pieces.

Melt the bacon grease over medium-high heat.  Add the cabbage and saute until the cabbage reaches the desired degree of crispness or tenderness (I like my cabbage with lots of crunch left).  Add remaining ingredients and toss thoroughly.  Serve hot with extra cider vinegar.

Recipe 6:  Open-Faced Hammy Melt Sandwiches

You'll need:

1 bun-sized Muffin In A Minute (see note), split and toasted
Ham, sliced or shredded
2 eggs
2 slices Swiss cheese
1c heavy whipping cream
4T mustard
1t Old Bay seasoning

Preheat the broiler.  Fry eggs separately, shaping the eggs as they fry so they will fit on the split muffin halves.  Place the toasted MIM halves on a small baking sheet.  Top each muffin half with sliced or shredded ham, a fried egg, and a slice of swiss cheese on top.

Make the sauce:  In a small saucepan, simmer the heavy whipping cream with the mustard and seasoning until it thickens slightly.

Put the pan with the muffin halves under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese to bubbling slightly.  Remove from oven and serve hot, spooning the mustard cream sauce over.

Note:  Muffin in a Minute recipes are many and varied.  The one I use for a sandwich bun is as follows:

1T butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1/4c flaxmeal
1/2t baking powder
1/4t salt
1 packet Splenda

Mix in desired container -- I use a straight-sided bowl the size of a hamburger bun -- and microwave 1 minute on high.  Split and toast.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Losing My Religion, Metaphorically Speaking

I'm here at my computer in my basement office, TV turned off, email turned off, not answering the door, hiding from religion.

And let's be clear here.  I'm not speaking of religious faith.  I'm speaking of people who have "got religion" about something or another.

Somebody has gotten religious about something when they're no longer content to believe and practice it themselves and/or with like-minded people and let others do as they like, but now they've got to go out and coax, nag, manipulate and/or outright force others to do likewise.  Mine is the One True Way; forsake all others -- or else -- and get with the program!!!

Right now so many people have "got religion" over the election, I'm cowering under my desk hiding from my own friends.  I can't turn on the TV, read my email, or open my mailbox without being inundated with other people's political religion.  All I can say is, I've never been so happy to be self-employed at home.

Beware of becoming religious about low carb.  It's easy to do if you're passionate about your way of eating, how much it's done for you, all the unhealthy food out there and WOW, the government needs to outlaw high fructose corn syrup and GMOs and trans fats and while we're at it tobacco and alcohol, who needs those, and artificial sweeteners and MSG and caffeine . . .

Okay, this is starting to sound like Demolition Man, and I've never seen such a horrific depiction of the future in my LIFE, so stopping now.

The truth is this:  There IS no One True Way.  Repeat the magic phrase:  "Your mileage may vary."  Say it to yourself ten times before the words "should" or "shouldn't" even consider leaving your mouth.

You've probably run into somebody on a different WOE than you -- a different version of low carb, or a different WOE altogether, like low fat -- who's gotten religion and is determined to tell you how wrong you are and why you should fall on your knees and repent and run out and buy the book and sin no more.  Don't you feel tempted to yell, flee, or in the alternative pelt them with jowl bacon?  Well, no, who wants to waste nice tasty jowl bacon?  But you get my point.  These are the feelings you inspire in others when you yourself don't live and let live, when you try to push your views at someone who has their own belief system and isn't in the market for a replacement.

Believe me, I'm no less guilty of religion than the next person.  I'm religious about hunting, pet ownership, animal testing, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, the war on drugs, and a whole host of other things.  I grind my teeth and repeat my mantra a lot because very few of my friends' views jibe 100% with my own.  I try, try, try to respect other people's beliefs as just as valid as my own, their right to live, eat, etc. just as important as my own, and try not to spend too much time on a soapbox.

Bear in mind that preaching can have unintended consequences.  Right now, for instance, I've gotten so saturated with political saliva spewed at me from every direction that for the first time since the age of 18 I am seriously, seriously considering not voting at all.  The shocking degree of mud slinging in the ads, coupled with people knocking on my door, calling on my phone, and stuffing my mailbox have so sickened me with our political system that I want to turn off all media and just go hide until the damned election is over.

When Aunt Agnes just will not take no for an answer and keeps pushing her famous fudge at you every time she sees you, she shouldn't be too surprised to see less and less of you.

I am passionate about low carbing.  I'm also passionate about cooking and have been both pre low carb and now.  Consequently I have a lot of recipes.  Sometimes one of my non-low-carbing friends or family members will want a recipe for something I used to cook pre low carb.  Many of these friends and family I feel would benefit tremendously by low carb.  But I send them the recipe nonetheless.  I may suggest, "You know, I've got a fantastic sugar free pots de creme recipe, and a great sugar-free cheesecake, too, that would work for your dinner instead, and I'd be happy to send you the recipes," but I don't preach.  Until I have my own life perfectly in order (and show me anyone who does!), I can't presume to tell someone else how they should be living theirs.

And therein is the crucial difference between offering and preaching.  Offering is a pressure-free suggestion.  Not interested?  Fine.  On to the next topic.  Preaching is an attempt to influence or manipulate somebody else to do what you want them to do.  You don't want them to make a free choice on their own.  You want them to fall in line and get with the program and do what you know deep in your heart is best for them.

Beware this kind of thinking.  This is how the low fat movement got started.  This is how Dr. Atkins was relentlessly persecuted throughout his career.  This is how wars and hate crimes start and friendships are lost.

We are all different.  What works for you doesn't work for me.  What works for me may not work for anybody else in the known universe.  I'm allergic to mushrooms.  Most of you probably aren't.  I adore cheese, hearty black Assam tea and Thai food.  Some of you probably don't like any or all of the above.  No one low carb plan -- or even low carb itself -- or any system of political or religious beliefs or type of underwear -- is a good fit for everyone.  Each and every person must find what works for them.  And please, please, when you do, nobly resist the temptation to wax evangelical about it.

There are no winners in a holy war.

It's alive! Alive!

Hey, everybody.

You've maybe noticed my conspicuous absence for . . . oh, several months.  I'm still here, still low carbing.  Sorry for the absence, just got caught up in a lot of Real Life messes like a legal property line dispute, an air conditioner that gave up the ghost in the middle of a triple-digit heat wave, senior parents with health problems, a dear friend in the hospital with what everybody thought was a heart attack, things like that.  And me, slogging through really record-breaking insomnia and, probably not coincidentally, depression.  All of that ended up with me barely able to string two thoughts together, much less put them into a readable sentence.

But here I am again, back like a case of Athlete's Foot.  For those who actually follow my crazy ramblings, I apologize for the long silence.

Let's get back on track.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ebook Readers Take Note!

If you have some means to read Amazon ebooks (a Kindle, Kindle for PC, which is free, Kindle for iPad, what have you), there is a LOT of good stuff to be found in the Kindle store.

Dana Carpender is rereleasing her books in ebook format.  I also found a very old but beloved cookbook, Harriet Brownlee's The Low-Carb Gourmet.  There are, in fact, literally hundreds of low-carb cookbooks in the Kindle store, a few outright free, others free to borrow if you have a Prime membership.

I indulged today in one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  I pulled up the Kindle store cookbooks, priced from low to high (advanced search) and looked at all the freebies.  To my surprise and delight, there were numerous ebook versions of these wonderful antique "housekeeping" books I just adore.  These are such fun.  Written back in the early 1900s and 1800s, they're aimed at young brides.  Although they may have plenty of recipes in them, they may also have sections on things like how to make furniture polish or worm a horse.  They're just delightful.

And they have that wonderful free quality I so love in a book.<G>

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Soylent Pink, a/k/a Pink Slime and Its Kin

I'm assuming everybody has heard the Pink Slime scandal.  Pink slime, euphemistically called by its makers "lean finely textured beef" or "boneless lean beef trimmings," consists of beef scraps, sinew, fat, connective tissue, and other beef deemed unfit for human consumption, ground into a fine paste.  This paste is then placed in a heated centrifuge to separate it into liquid fat and protein paste.  Finally, the lean material is processed, heated, and treated with ammonia to kill e.coli, salmonella and other harmful bacteria.  It's extruded into blocks, flash frozen and sold cheaply to meat processors as an additive to beef products.

The term "pink slime" was actually coined by Gerald Zirnstein in 2002.  At the time, Zirnstein was a microbiologist for the USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service.  But pink slime didn't hit the public in the eye until spring of 2011, when UK chef Jamie Oliver, in his show "Food Revolution," gave a thorough airing of pink slime, how it was made, and how pervasive it was in American's ground beef products -- not only hamburger patties eaten at most fast-food chains, not only in processed beef products, but even in the ground beef you bought at a lot of grocery stores.

That's when the slime hit the fan.

Since Jamie Oliver's expose, numerous new services on TV, online and in print have covered the issue exhaustively.  ABC news did a whole series this year and showed how the public perception has made itself known:  Several fast food chains stopped using the product, and some grocery stores stopped adding it to their ground beef.  The backlash was so severe that the primary company making it, BPI (Beef Products, Inc.) closed down all but one of their processing plants.

BPI and others within the beef industry have protested the public image, coining the phrase "Beef is beef" (Remember Wendy's commercial campaign against McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, "Parts is parts"?).

Here's my take on what some call pink slime, but others take a step farther and call "Soylent Pink."  This stuff started out as beef unfit for human consumption.  Now, I'm sure that after it's been folded, spindled, mutilated and ammoniated, it's safe from a bacteriological standpoint.  I'm also sure that I could pick up a piece of poo out of my cats' litterbox and ammoniate it or irradiate it or whatever until it's safe from a bacteriological standpoint.

Doesn't mean I want to eat it.

However, the beef industry does make one valid argument.  We're all outraged by the pink slime . . . but have you ever heard of "mechanically separated chicken"?  Maybe you have, maybe you haven't, but you've probably eaten it.  If you've ever put a chicken nugget in your mouth, you've eaten it.  If you've eaten a hotdog or a slice of bologna in the past few years, you've almost certainly eaten it.

Mechanically separated chicken is the pink slime of the poultry world.  Stripped chicken bones are run under a high pressure stream of water which blasts any remaining meat, sinew, veins, connective tissue and gristle from the bones.  This appetizing mishmash is pureed into a batter consistency.  It's then used to make chicken nuggets or as an extender.  Now, let me add an aside here for fairness' sake:  McDonald's hasn't used mechanically separated poultry (MSP) for a few years.  They now use only white meat in making their nuggets.  But nuggets you buy your kids at the grocery store aren't nearly so finicky.  'Nuff said.

I bet you thought hot dogs and bologna were made with beef and/or pork.  Surprise, surprise!  Unless your hot dog is specifically labeled "all beef," chances are the first ingredient is mechanically separated chicken.  The same with bologna.  They may not contain any beef or pork at all.  And the quality of ingredients only go downhill from there.

As Alice Cooper would say, welcome to my nightmare.

There are, I guess, two important points to be drawn from this whole thing.

First, don't put any food blithely in your mouth without knowing what's in it.  Okay, when you're in a restaurant, it may not be easy to learn exactly what's in every bite, but when you're in a grocery store, you have no excuse.  None.  Read the F-ing label, and if you don't like or don't recognize something on that label, don't eat the product!!!  (Now, that said, I do have to add a disclaimer.  Our beloved USDA, in its infinite wisdom, decided that the pink slime counts as "beef" and doesn't have to appear on any label as an ingredient.  So yes, we were snookered.  We had no way to know we were eating this horrible crap.  What I hope we've all learned from this is to ask questions.  And if you don't get satisfactory answers, ask more questions.)

And second, learn to cook things yourself.  Yes, from scratch.  Want chicken nuggets?  There's no magic secret known only to fast food chains.  It's not rocket science.  Cut up some nice chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and bread them with parmesan cheese or nut meal or pork rinds and seasoning and make chicken nuggets.  They're delicious.  I should know, my husband and I have done it several times.  I've even made low-carb sweet and sour sauce to dunk them in.  Don't settle for inferior food made with dubious (to say the very least) ingredients.  Learn to make it yourself and eat it with a clear conscience.

The latest venture at Casa Logston is homemade sausage.  We actually took a fascinating and fun sausage-making class.  We have a nice meat grinder attachment on my stand mixer.  Considering what probably goes into bulk breakfast sausage, I see a lot of homemade frozen sausage patties in our future.  And by strange coincidence, I just happen to have a pork shoulder sitting there in the fridge.  Hmmmm . . .

Wake up and smell the Soylent Pink, people.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cool trick if you love ghee!

Have you ever had ghee?  It's similar in principle to clarified butter, but clarified butter is generally served melted and liquid, whereas ghee (the Indian name) is the name for the butterfat itself, whether it's melted or solid.  Basically, ghee is pure butterfat with the milk solids removed.  It has a delicious toasted, nutty flavor.  Because the milk solids have been removed from the butterfat, ghee cooks much better at higher temperatures than regular butter can, because there's no milk solids to burn.  The only downside is that making ghee takes time and supervision.

Or not.

Today I learned a really amazing way to make large quantities of ghee for all your cooking needs.  It couldn't be easier.  Just plunk two or three pounds of butter (preferably unsalted) into your slow cooker.  Cook on low until the butter is melted and the milk solids rise to the surface, somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half.

Skim the milk solids from the surface of the liquid with a spoon.  Then either ladle out the clear liquid, or pour it through cheesecloth to strain out any remaining milk solids.  And there you are, an ample supply of delicious homemade ghee.  It keeps a lot longer than plain butter and can be frozen as well.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just so you don't think I'm abandoning my blog . . .

I've been busy preparing for a convention that I attend every year over Memorial Day weekend and the days surrounding it, so things have been kind of frantic and there probably won't be anything more until sometime next week.  I'll be off at a convention, leaving my poor Paul at home to fend for himself.  He enjoys this weekend, because it gives him a chance to play around with low-carb meatloaf (I loathe meatloaf), corned beef and the like that I never, ever eat.

See you all next week!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Low Carbing On A Budget Part III -- Couponing 101

I’m sure everybody has seen, or at least heard about, Extreme Couponing, where couponers walk into a grocery store, load up eight shopping carts, present a stack of coupons two inches thick and end up paying a dollar for $1,000 worth of groceries.

That’s not going to happen to you or me.

There’s several reasons for this.  First, let’s get the biggie out of the way:  The people on these shows aren’t doing their ordinary grocery shopping.  They’re showcasing one shopping trip where they’ve cherry picked a list that corresponds with the most spectacular coupons just so they can show they can save 99% plus of their bill under absolutely perfect conditions.  Even for them, these are atypical shopping trips.  Most of us aren't going to go to the store for 200 boxes of Cheerios.  Even if we ate Cheerios in the first place.

Let’s face it:  Low carbers are never going to get the kind of results other couponers will.  Why?  Because we buy (or at least should buy) heavily from the fresh produce and fresh meat counters where coupons are rare.  For the most part, food coupons are for heavily processed foods which, hopefully, we aren’t buying.  That doesn’t even take into account that these extreme couponers are spending a huge chunk of time (often over 40 hours a week) clipping coupons and searching out deals.  They also usually have a ginormous stockpile occupying their entire garage and/or multiple rooms in their house.  So unless you’re prepared to make couponing your actual profession, you can’t hope to equal their results.

However, couponing can, with very minimal time and effort and without a ginormous stockpile, be a wonderful asset for low carbers, and I’m going to show you how to do it.

First, realize that while there aren’t many coupons for fresh meat and produce, you do eat a lot of things that aren’t fresh meat and produce, such as oils, dairy, eggs, condiments, cheese, beverages, frozen or <shudder> canned vegetables, sweeteners and so on.  Also, remember all the consumables around your house that aren’t food?  Household cleaners, paper and plastic products, health and beauty products, pet supplies, and over-the-counter medications and so forth.  All of these are ready coupon candidates.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I only started using coupons early last year.  I’d watched Extreme Couponing, but somehow it all seemed like (a) too much trouble, and (b) inapplicable to me as a low carber.  Then, after a shopping trip to Meijer, I was ready to throw out the Catalinas that printed out at the register, but . . . I looked.  There in my hand was a coupon for $7.50 off my next meat purchase of $25.00 or more.  I had almost thrown away $7.50.  What low carber doesn’t spend $25 on meat on a shopping trip?  That was the beginning for me.  I went home, got online and did some research, and picked my jaw up off the floor when I realized just how much money I’d literally trashed over the years.  If I’d started couponing back when I moved out of my parents’ house 27 years ago, I probably would have saved enough money over the years to go out and pick a new sportscar off the lot.  Still, better late than never.  I’ve saved hundreds of dollars this year alone, and you can too.

If you followed my earlier instructions, you already have a list of your favorite consumables, food and otherwise, from your store price comparisons earlier.  If you have trouble making this list, just walk through your day, and while you’re in the bathroom, kitchen, pantry or the laundry room, open the cabinets and look at what’s in there.  Make your list and break it down into categories.  I break my list down by the aisle at the grocery store I usually shop at:  Produce, Meat/Fish, Deli, Frozen, Beverages, Snacks, Canned, Condiments, Baking Aisle, Dairy, Paper/Plastic, Cleaning, Health/Beauty, Pills (for me, this encompasses both over-the-counter meds and supplements) and Pet Supplies.

Invest in a coupon organizer wallet, or, if you’re ambitious, a three-ring binder with clear pocket sheets of various sizes.  My coupon wallet (here’s the exact one I use, if you care: has dividers labeled with the same categories I just listed above, so I can neatly store my coupons.  This wallet is perfectly adequate for my purposes and (important to me) small enough to go in my purse, but you can always go big with a large coupon organizer like this ( or a three-ring binder.  Don’t get overexcited and spend a bunch of money on some fancy coupon binder “system” on eBay.  Make your own dividers and buy some cheap clear plastic pocket pages with varying size pockets for varying size coupons.  The goal here is to save money by couponing, not eat up all your savings buying couponing “supplies” that you don’t even need.

I refuse to carry a huge binder or box of coupons with me to the grocery store.  It gets me stressed and confused.  If you get so far into couponing that your stash of coupons outgrows your coupon wallet, my advice is to buy a cheap cardboard expanding file folder, label it, keep your coupons in there, and then transfer what you’re going to use on a particular shopping trip into your coupon wallet.

Don’t go to the other extreme and just shove your coupons into an envelope or your pocket.  Your coupons will get crumpled (bad if you have to feed them into a slot at the register), mixed up, and possibly forgotten.

Where To Get Coupons

The first and most obvious answer is, of course, the newspaper, generally the Sunday paper.  There are two main newspaper coupon inserts, SmartSource and RedPlum.  Once a month is the big, wonderful Procter & Gamble coupon supplement.  There are also other coupons to be found in the newspapers, such as Walgreens flyers and weekly newspaper magazines.

Now, let me state at the outset:  I neither run around begging people for coupon inserts, nor do I comb through recycling bins or dumpsters looking for them.  I’m too proud and too lazy.<G>  That said, my parents, who live in an independent living apartment, save their coupon inserts for me (in exchange, I do their grocery shopping and coupon for them<G>) and their neighbor’s as well.

Magazines often contain coupons.  If you already subscribe to a magazine, fine, but it generally isn’t worth it to subscribe to a magazine just for the coupons.

If you get serious about couponing, online coupon clipping services can be worthwhile.  I buy some coupons from Coupon DeDe’s (  There’s a small “handling fee” per coupon, as well as postage to mail them, so this kind of thing is most useful if you’re going to use a lot of coupons.

Some coupons can be found right on the product.  Peel-off coupons can be used at the time of checkout.  Other times coupons can be found inside the packaging or printed on the packaging, to be cut out for later use.

Catalinas are paper coupons printed out at the register, so named because the machine itself is branded Catalina.  These coupons are a wonderful, wonderful resource.  Catalinas are one of the few sources of coupons for fresh meat or produce and for store-brand products.

You can often get coupons direct from the manufacturer.  Some manufacturers have downloadable printable coupons.  Others, if you write or email them about their product, will mail you coupons.  Many manufacturers will mail you very high-value coupons just for contacting them and asking a question or showing interest.

There are numerous sites for free online printable coupons, such as  Most grocery stores accept printed coupons, but some don’t.

Store loyalty cards can give you a double or even triple savings.  Take the Kroger Plus Card, for example.  Every week in the weekly sales flyer you’ll see special discounts for Plus Card holders.  Additionally, if you set up an account on the Kroger web site, you can download digital coupons directly to your Plus card.  These coupons are automatically applied when you scan your Plus card at the register and check out.  And finally, every time you check out and use your Plus card at Kroger, a certain number of points are accrued on your Plus card, corresponding to the size of your purchase.  You can use your Plus card and these points at Kroger gas stations (and, to a lesser degree, at a couple other gas stations, such as Shell) for gasoline discounts.  For instance, if you have 100 points, you get a 10-cent discount per gallon, 20 cents for 200 points, up to $1 off per gallon.

If you have friends or other family members who coupon, consider a coupon swap wherein you cut out the coupons you want from an insert, then pass the rest on to others, and they pass theirs on to you.  Most manufacturer’s coupons are good for at least a couple of weeks, so you can even swap coupons by mail.

How To Combine Coupons

Yes, you can combine coupons.  You can’t stack up three identical coupons and use them all for one product, but you can combine coupons from different sources.  Say that you have a manufacturer’s coupon from SmartSource for 50 cents off a tube of Colgate toothpaste.  There’s a Walgreen’s store coupon for 25 cents off that same tube of Colgate toothpaste.  You can use both coupons for a total of 75 cents off that tube of toothpaste.  Or say that I have a digital coupon downloaded to my Kroger Plus card.  I can use a paper manufacturer’s coupon for the same product.

Now, let me add two disclaimers here.  First, read the coupons.  They often have limitations on them, such as “limit of four like coupons per purchase” or “cannot be combined with other offers.”  Also, be sure your coupon hasn’t expired and that it isn’t another store’s coupon.  Some stores will actually accept expired coupons or coupons for other stores, but most won’t.  Second, know your store’s coupon policies.  For instance, some stores double coupons under $1 all the time, or certain days of the week.  Some stores don’t double, period.  Other stores double coupons under 50 cents.  It’s worth your time to find out the store’s coupon policies and make notes for yourself for the future.  Few stores actually post, either on the premises or on their web site, their coupon policies.  You’ll have to ask.  Brace yourself and do it.  It’s less embarrassing than a misunderstanding at the cash register.

To Stockpile Or Not To Stockpile?

The couponers on the show have big, rather intimidating stockpiles.  I don't have the space for a large stockpile or the patience to rotate stuff.  My "stockpile" is two sets of cheap plastic Plano shelves in my laundry room and a stack each of toilet paper and paper towel packages in the garage, and my Plano shelves are nowhere near full.  I don't have room or time for more.  I only stockpile everyday items that are relatively non-perishable, like toothpaste, deodorant, paper goods, laundry detergent and so on.

That said, when you happen on a really great bargain at the store, it does pay to stock up if you have the money and space to do so.  You don't have to go crazy with it.  Chances are the same great price will come up again in a few months.  But when shank-end hams go on sale at Kroger for 77 cents a pound, I get three or four and put them in my upright freezer.  I've got five boxes of Splenda packets that cost me nothing, after sales plus coupons.  My 18-cent Speed Stick deodorants would last Paul and me probably a year, and my $1 bottles of Tide detergent will keep us in laundry for at least a few months.

Make your own decision about stockpiling based on your available space and personal preference.  If you don't mind stocking up when a great bargain rolls around, you'll save more.  If you can't, you can't.  Simple as that.

Now, Put It All Together – Combining Sales and Coupons

You have your list of commonly-used consumables and prices.  You have your weekly sales flyers.  You have your coupons.  Now is the time to find some serious bargains.

Look, Cascade ActionPacs are on sale at Kroger.  Ordinarily I could get them a little cheaper at Wal-Mart, but at the sale price it’s much cheaper at Kroger.  And look!  There’s a digital coupon for 25 cents off that I can download from the Kroger web site to my Plus card, and I’ve got a manufacturer’s coupon for 50 cents off.  On Thursdays, my Kroger doubles coupons under $1, so if I buy the Cascade on Thursday, I can get $1.25 off the sale price of the product.  Wow!!!

When you make up your shopping list for each store, arrange your list under the same categories you do your coupons.  If you have a coupon for some item, put a little “C” next to it so you’ll remember to get that coupon out (you can break it down to “MC”, “DC” and/or “SC” if you have both manufacturer’s coupons, digital coupons and/or store coupons for an item).  That way you'll remember to have all your paper coupons out and ready at checkout.

To Make It Easier

All of this sounds terribly complicated, but it’s not.  First of all, at least some of this, like menu planning and knowing the price spread between your local stores, are things you should be doing anyway.

You don’t have to devote a lot of time and energy to saving money.  Most of it can be done sitting at the computer.  I spend about a half hour a week, if that, clipping and filing coupons, including discarding expired coupons.  I spend about another half hour late Wednesday night or Thursday morning looking at the weekly ads, planning my weekly menu and printing out my shopping lists.  In exchange for that hour of time, I’ve eliminated all but one or two grocery trips (depending on whether I’m going to more than one store) and a lot of time, effort and confusions.  No, I don’t save 99%+ on my grocery bill, but it’s very, very common for me to save over 50%.  (In case you're curious, my top savings on a grocery trip was 77%.)

You can buy books on couponing, but it seems ridiculous to me to spend money learning how to save money, particularly when there are so many free resources available online.

Here’s a couple of essential couponing resources:  This is where every couponer should get started.  Don’t feel like you have to buy her book.  The information on the site, and the lovely downloadable .pdfs, will answer all your questions and talk you through everything step by step.  The database is very valuable.  Sign up for the newsletter.  Seriously.  This is a daily newsletter every couponer should sign up for.  It will steer you towards the best deals as well as delineating how you can combine this coupon with this sale to get incredible prices.  I mentioned this earlier, but this is the best coupon service I’ve found, so if you want 20 of that wonderful $1.00 off Mio coupon, you can do that without buying 20 newspapers.  They mail the coupons very quickly, so you can confidently buy a coupon that's going to expire in, say, five days.

If you feel intimidated, start slowly.  Check out one week's Catalinas and newspaper insert coupons and set aside only those for products you use anyway.  If you need any of those products, then use the coupons even if the products aren't on sale.  Some savings is better than full price!  Those big ticket "Sale plus store coupon plus manufacturer's coupon equals a free product" items aren't nearly as common as the TV show makes them appear.  But every coupon you use is money in your pocket, regardless!

Low Carbing On A Budget Part II -- Menu Planning

I can’t emphasize this enough.  Menu planning:  It’s not just a good low-carb strategy and a time and energy saver, it’s a savings imperative.  If you implement only one savings strategy, it should be this one.  Menu planning will not only keep you from straying off plan, getting stressed out with last-minute “Oh, my God, what can I fix for dinner?”, but will keep you from wasting food.  Menu planning can take into account unexpected schedule changes, abbreviated time available for cooking, nights when you’re just too pooped to cook, and unexpected guests.  I’m going to talk you through a week’s menu planning at Casa Logston.

Because Wednesday is the day my Kroger’s puts meat into the Manager’s Special section, I go to Kroger on Wednesday.  There’s a nice chuck roast there.  While I’m there, I notice that chicken drumsticks are still on sale for 79 cents a pound.  From my comparison list, I know this is a great price.  Tomorrow the new weekly ad comes out, so I won’t have that price tomorrow.  So I’ll snag a package now.

I’m a late-night worker, so after midnight, sitting at my computer, I’ll pull up the local stores’ weekly flyers.  I’ve already got the chuck roast and the chicken legs; that’s two meals.  Paul and I love “breakfast for dinner,” but I don’t have to buy anything for that; I already have bacon and sausage in the freezer, and we never let the egg supply get low.  Leftover bacon and sausage will become quiche makings, so there’s two more dinners taken care of, although I’ll need leeks for the quiche; I’ve already got cream, frozen chopped spinach, and cheese.  That’s four dinner entrees.  I still need two dinner and two lunch entrees (Paul and I sleep late on weekends and only cook two meals, and we eat out on Mondays) and veggies to go with everything.

Kroger has whole chickens on sale.  A whole chicken makes two meals – roast chicken for one, and chopped leftover chicken to cook with shirataki noodles to make chicken and noodles.  Meijer has ham shanks at a great price; that can go in the crockpot.  Meijer also has a good price on ground chuck – that means hamburgers and shepherd’s pie.  Okay, I’m set for meat.  Now I need veggies.

Meijer has the better price on cauliflower, so I’ll get two for the shepherd’s pie and two more besides, because we love cauliflower; I already know I’m going to Meijer for the ham and ground chuck.  Zucchini looks good at Meijer, too, and asparagus.  I’ll also get salad greens here.  Our Kroger’s produce section sucks, but two heads of cabbage are cheap and hard to abuse too badly, and they have bagged turnip greens on manager’s special – those will be great with the ham – and I mustn’t forget my leeks. 

Right now, my tentative dinner pairings would go something like this:

Chuck pot roast and lemon pepper cauliflower
Roast chicken and stir-fried zucchini
Ham and turnip greens
Shepherd’s pie and fried cabbage
“Breakfast for dinner”
“Heroin” chicken legs and coleslaw

And lunches:

Hamburgers and asparagus
Bacon, sausage, leek, spinach and cheese quiche (two quiches) and salad

Yes, there are leftovers here that aren’t used in meals, plus a whole second quiche.  There’s a reason behind this.  I work from home.  Leftovers, including the chicken and noodles I planned, are my lunches, together with salads.

Note that I’ve located the pot roast, the roast chicken, and the ham at the beginning of my schedule.  I do this because I want the leftovers from those meals to use as my own lunches and as ingredients in other things throughout the week.  However, for example, if I knew Paul was going to be working very late on Thursday, I might schedule the ham for Thursday, because it can happily sit in the crockpot, and by the time Paul gets home, I’m not going to feel like putting a lot of effort into cooking, so the turnip greens will be quick and easy.  I’ve paired the hamburger and the asparagus because we love grilled asparagus and it’s handy to cook them both on the grill, but I could, if I chose, serve the asparagus with the chicken and make marinated grilled zucchini with the hamburgers.  I also make sure that I’ve got enough ham and turnip greens to take some over to my parents, because they adore my crockpot ham and turnip greens.  When I caramelize the onions to go in the shepherd’s pie, I’ll caramelize enough for the quiche, too, and pre-prep the leeks in the same skillet after I’ve removed the onions – that way I’ll have nothing to do for the quiche but assemble and cook it, which makes it extra easy for a lazy weekend lunch.

By and large, Paul and I are “meat and veg” or “meat, veg and salad” eaters, but I’ll throw in a little extra variety – Meijer has chayote at a decent price, so I’ll make a pan of mock apple brown betty for a vegetable “dessert” with the pot roast.  Mac and cheese made with shirataki noodles will make a second side with the ham and turnip greens.  My extra head of cauliflower will make Cauliflower “rice pilaf” to go with the chicken legs.  I’ll make flaxmeal pancakes for our dinner “breakfast” and MIM buns for our hamburgers.  All these extra touches take little effort, but they’re what make the difference between a frugal, healthy meal and a wonderful frugal, healthy meal.

You can see how I’ve planned my menus not only around what’s cheap at the store, but also to minimize work on my part, and to take into account my and Paul’s schedules as well.  I’ve saved myself a lot of money and time – no last-minute emergency runs to the store – and I know exactly what to fix and when, and I’ve planned in treats to make sure I’m not tempted to stray.  Just that small bit of pre-planning has eliminated unnecessary spending, stress and waste, and assured my lunches for the week as well.