Too Many Thoughts and a Recipe Post

Visited Cooking by the Seat of My Pants blog the other day and noticed Jerry had a recipe for ceviche with salmon! Mmmm! I've always just made it with swordfish, but salmon sounds so good and it's my favorite fish! So now I'll be watching for wild caught salmon on sale in the weekly ads.

Of course, my version will definitely not have any Anaheim chiles in it. As I've mentioned before the  capsicum family (chiles/peppers) and I do not get along. I wish we did, because so many recipes these days call for spicy heat. Chiles are even suggested for helping to stay cool on hot days and to speed up one's metabolism.

This also kind of limits me when it comes to get-togethers with friends, since a large portion of the appetizers, entrees and whatever else other people bring to share are inevitably spicy. When I say spicy I'm referring strictly to hot peppers like jalapenos, Anaheim's, habaneros, cayenne and so forth. Even plain black pepper can potentially wreak havoc in my stomach if I'm not cautious.

As a result, I tend to bring fresh finger-size veggies with a yogurt/sour cream/herb dip when invited to a get-together, just so I'll have something to eat! As I've mentioned in an earlier post, the "go-to" potluck dish is my tuna salad recipe when a main course is needed. Although for the next potluck, I may try making one of the curried cauliflower dishes I've noticed popping up lately on food blogs. Strangely, Indian spices like garam masala and curries don't phase me one bit.

I think I've also noted in a past post that when I was still married, I'd made curry with beef for dinner, served over basmati rice. While I was gobbling it up (it was so good) my then husband (who often criticized me for not being able to eat spicy foods) looked at me and asked how I could eat it. Lol! His face was beet red and drops of perspiration were rolling down his forehead. It was pretty funny since the dish had no effect on me. Sort of a little karmic justice I guess.

Anyway, I'll have to share my curry recipe with you. Well, I will, as soon as I make a final decision on a computer. I don't want to spend time downloading what I was lucky enough to back up last November, until I've made my final decision. I like this recipe because it's very versatile, you can use lamb, beef, chicken or shrimp in it.

Today though, I will share my super-easy vegetable dip with you.

16 oz. (453.592 grams) sour cream (I like Knudson's) *
2-4 t. Lemon Pepper (I like Lawry's)
2-3 t. Beau Monde Seasoning from Spice Islands

2-3 t. Bon Appetit Seasoning Salt from McCormick

You can either toss all the seasonings into the sour cream container and stir together thoroughly or put the sour cream and seasonings into a bowl, mixing well. Then, either put the dip all back into the container or if you used the bowl method just cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Put in the fridge for at least 4 hours, stirring once or twice.

I suggest starting with the smallest amounts of spice noted, mix together and chill. After about 2 hours, give it a stir and taste. Add more of each as needed. Remember it's easier to add than remove. One thing I've noticed is that if there's not enough "fresh" taste, adding a bit more Bon Appetit does the trick. I hope you enjoy this. It's always devoured when brought to any gathering.

*Note:  you can also use half sour cream and half yogurt to lighten the dip calorie-wise. Enjoy!

P.S. I knew I forgot something! This is also a fabulous dip for artichokes. The flavors all compliment each other beautifully.

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One Simple Post...an Encore

A very late-night post.... As I've said in the past, I rarely look at the "stats" for this journal. However, I did yesterday and noticed that one post had the greatest number of views:  "One Simple Post" from April 9, 2011 had the most. I went back and viewed K.D.Lang's performance of "Hallelujah" and simply "melted".

That dear soul has soooooo much talent, grace and spirit. Leonard Cohen did a wonderful job creating this beautiful piece of music, but K.D. just nails it. Whenever I'm troubled, I just pop over and view it. Listening to her soul-stirring rendition just soothes my soul and gives me peace. It is soooo utterly beautiful...which is why I'm re-posting it here... sheerly for your enjoyment if you missed the previous post.

Thank you to all of you who stop in to check on my little blog, it means a LOT to me! Sleep well tonight!

P.S. Still haven't heard from my little brother and his family on the East Coast, please send good thoughts that way and to all who endured "Irene". Thank you so very, very much!

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Just to Clarify Post

In the past I've mentioned that I prefer to buy Foster Farms chicken. It suddenly dawned on me that I never explained why. My chiropractor who actually channels energy and clears blockages in one's body (yes, this is California, what can I say...) advised me two years ago to limit my intake of red meat, to only buy wild caught fish and not eat chicken which were fed antibiotics, steroids and hormones.

After some research and phone calls, I was assured Foster Farms poultry almost fit that bill and are grown about 10 miles from me. A blurb from their website states "fresh, locally grown chicken and turkey have no added hormones, steroids or artificial enhancers". They do however use antibiotics as noted on their website "As part of our long-term commitment to natural poultry products, Foster Farms continues to be prudent in the use of antibiotics in the production of poultry".

Okay, so not perfect, but at least it's a start. Whole Foods has more organic chicken, but it's super pricy. While FF may not be as expensive as the chickens at WF, it's still not cheap, so I always peruse the weekly food ads. Stater Brothers often has the breasts with ribs on sale in the jumbo pack for $0.99/lb. I don't know if, at my age, it will really makes any difference since I was born in the day when they still sprayed farms with DDT. At least it makes me feel like I'm doing something reasonably good for myself.

In some of my past searches I found the following sites on which may interest you. They did me. Who knew about celery and how bad it could be? First is a list of the fruits and veggies one "should" buy organic and ones that are fairly safe not to. It's from the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization, a site that has a great deal of info and not just about food.

I also found the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Pocket Guide which covers ocean friendly choices for seafood around the U.S. including Hawaii. There's a sushi guide too. Each regional guide is downloadable. For example here is the link for the West Coast Guide. It has "Best Choices", "Good Alternatives" and "Avoid". I tried to copy it but can't get it to paste into Blogger, so just click on the link.

Another link I discovered when I Googled "pocket guide to buying chicken" was this link has both meats and poultry covered. While I still can't afford to buy uncaged, outdoor, free-range chickens at Whole Foods, I can at least protect myself a little, even if I can't do more to help the birds.

Actually, after commenting on the costs of buying certain foods, I found this link, "Dr. Greene Pediatrics Naturally" blog. It had an article titled "5 Ways to Buy Organic on a Budget" plus, as you would expect, all kinds of info on feeding children and avoiding obesity.

That's all for today, just wanted to share some info you may or may not have known about. Possibly someday, I'll live in an area where I can have chickens for their eggs and Blue can "herd" them. Wouldn't that be a sight? Then again, maybe I'll just live near a farm that sells them! Lol!

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Block Party Post

First, I want to ask my readers, especially those of you who live outside the U.S. if you have "block parties" or anything like them in your country. Several people I met today said they'd never been to a block party or had one where they lived. Have you? I'd love to hear about it! Just leave any info or links in the comments section. Thank you!

Today's "block party" was a success with about 100 attendees, though more would have shown up if it hadn't been so freakishly hot. The dark street asphalt really absorbs/reflects the heat from the sun, so neighbors were taking refuge under any tree they could find. The huge Live Oak in my front yard was a popular spot because of the vast amount of heavy shade it provided.

The street was blocked off from cars by barricades at each end. Several restaurants were supposed to set up tents in the street and offer tastings. For some unknown reason, they didn't show up. Oh well.

There was a kiddy pool set up filled with ice, water and marbles. The idea was for the kids to try to find and pick up the marbles with their toes. It was very popular, even with the adults.

A DJ played music and several pop-up tents were set up for different organizations like Relay for Life, the local food bank that had bags of canned goods for any who needed help and the neighborhood watch group. There also was a table for pot luck dishes to nibble on and plenty of cold water.

It was interesting meeting the people surrounding me, especially those from the houses and apartments behind the front houses on the street. Most of the properties in this area have two units or more on them so that's a lot of people. I even met the city's mayor!

The temperature was at least 105F (45.5C) in the shade with little to no breeze. I lasted about 40 minutes and suddenly could feel myself getting a little woozy, so back into the air conditioned house I went. A bit later I went out, this time with Blue. He had a good time meeting people and they were quite happy to indulge him with tummy rubs when he shamelessly rolled onto his back. He'd been beside himself since he couldn't see what was going on and so he was barking and grumping. I think getting out, helped him.

After about 30 minutes, I retreated into the house. Timing was just right since the party was over and clean up had begun.

My poor little window air conditioner is trying so hard, but it can only manage to keep the living room coolish. I dread seeing my electricity bill. It's going to be painful, I just know.

Anyhow, that was our block party in a nutshell! 

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Irene Post

Just called my brother in Connecticut to wish my nephew a happy birthday. He had told me on Monday that the whole family would be together for a belated celebration. Perfect, I get to say "hi" to everyone! Turns out the universe had another plan for the East Coast named Hurricane Irene. When I called just now, I got the answering machine, again. So I finally just left a message of birthday greetings.

After 15 or so minutes, I decided to call back...no idea why but got my bro' this time. They were outside trying to get the patio furniture into safety and making sure all the "hatches were battened down" since Irene was well on her way leaving devastation in her wake. Needless to say our conversation was short.

He heard that at the least there'd be 14 hours of down-pouring rain and winds 60-70 miles per hour. I hope that's all. I can't imagine NYC getting hit by this hurricane but the news is showing photos of people there boarding shop windows with plywood.

After all the rain the East Coast received this Spring and Summer I can't imagine many areas will escape flooding. So I'm sending good wishes to everyone there for a safe ride through this storm.


Wedding Anniversary Post

Yes, I was going to talk about tomatoes today but yesterday was my wedding anniversary. I was married many years ago. The date kind of took me by surprise.

I married a man who went into a mid-life crisis and never came out. Now I'm divorced and alone, while he moved in with a girlfriend named Sheryl E. Mind you, not some young bimbo, but a woman who looks a great deal like me and is a year older than him (thank you social networks, for giving fools a place to post their faces). They were dating (read: having sex) even while he and I were still married and trying to get divorced.

I don't know how some people can live with themselves. Really. Guess I'm just old-fashioned that way.

Tonight I'll be opening a bottle of champagne and toasting to my survival and endurance. My independence and finally being rid of him. I'll be celebrating the end of unhappiness...because being happy in this life...it is the most important thing.

P.S. Please forgive the lack of photos but since I'm just testing this computer out, I don't want to save anything to the hard drive and haven't had a chance to check out an online storage sites such as Flickr or any of the others. Any suggestions?

Tomatoes will be tomorrow and possibly photos of the street's block party.

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Even More Refrigerator Dillies Post

Yes, I do have pickles on the brain. Nice, crispy, icy dills. A simple old-fashioned pickle. It's got to be the heat. Summer has been kind to us up until yesterday. Now we're in the 100's (37.7C's) and110's (43.3C's). So here are more easy cold process dill pickle recipes. Some of the recipes even claim they last as long as 6 months in the fridge (if you can resist them for that long).

From Foodie with Family there is the Homemade Claussen Knock Off recipe. Food.com has several Claussen copies like this one and this one for Claussen Clones. I also found Claussen-Like Refrigerator Pickles and Claussen Dill Pickles (Refrigerator). There are even more on this site and all the ones I've listed  had a 5 star rating.

It appears from another site, idigmygarden.com, that adding heat ruins the crunchiness of the pickles. Lots of pickle info here. At recipesecrets.net/forums you'll find even more info and copycat recipes. Frankly, if you just Google "claussen dill pickle recipe" you will be overwhelmed by the abundance and variety of copycat recipes for these delicious greenies. Some with garlic (a "must" in my opinion) and some without. As well as recipes for those who like some heat in their pickles and variations that are tamer.

I may just have to pay a visit to a nearby farmers market tomorrow morning despite the 106+F (41+C) heat. Then again, maybe I'll wait for a cool spell.

Tomorrow we'll be talkin' tomatoes.

P.S. Will I never ever remember??? Ran out to buy a rotisserie chicken for dinner and while at the store spotted Virginia ham for $2.00 off/lb. which is perfect for sandwiches. So I bought a pound (.5K). Got home, put the groceries on the porch, ran into the house to let the dog out (I'd been gone to the Dr. and store for three hours) and saw my neighbor in the house behind me was out in the backyard. I walked back there to let him know about the "block party" on Sunday and we talked. Suddenly I heard the unmistakable sound of shredding plastic followed by deadly silence. I ran for the gate which wouldn't open. When I finally got the gate open and ran to the porch, there it was, the chewed up plastic bag with no sign of ham and the evil little beastie was starting in on the hard plastic covered roast chicken. A whole pound of ham!!! Guess who'll be getting no din-din tonight. As I've said before, I was very spoiled by my dear Siberian, Frost and her good behavior plus it's a darn good thing Blue's as cute as he is!

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Quick Little Post

After my dill pickle post, it seems my radar is up for easy dill pickle recipes. Today I found my way to Pie in the Sky blog and a delish dill pickle recipe which requires absolutely no hot bath. Yay! As soon as we leave the hot temperatures (100's F/38+C) I will be searching out canning pickles and dill flowers. The recipe sounds as good as the Claussen dills.

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Pickles and Peas Post

You'll perhaps remember my post a while back on the cost of Le Seuer canned peas in 2011 vs. 1994. Well, get ready...I passed a can of those little green balls in Albertson's and the cost had risen from $2.19 to $2.59 in less than one and one-half months! That's $2.00 higher than 1994.
While shopping, I picked up a jar of Claussen kosher dill pickle spears, not looking at the price 'cause how much can pickles cost? I mean, really. Well, even the guy at the checkout looked at the price that rung up and commented. $4.59! We looked at each other in astonishment. Pickles used to be a "cheap" food. I still bought them, but they will now be a once-in-a-blue-moon treat and I won't be woofing down three at a time any more either.

This is on top of noticing prices on pre-made salads like potato salad, coleslaw and macaroni salad at the deli counter, going from $1.99/lb. (1.38Euros/.5kg) to $3.99/lb. (2.76E/.5kg) in a matter of three months!
I really don't know how people afford eating. Reading an article on the internet yesterday, it stated there was a 74% increase in people in the U.S. on food stamps. No wonder.

I've always thought that counting on the government for assistance was for the truly destitute, but quite frankly, I'm contemplating it more and more lately.

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Back Up Post

Getting a new computer is fun but it's also a pain. I know, I sound like an ungrateful "arse". (Note:  I am truly thankful that I'm able at this point to afford to purchase a new one.) It's just that after almost four years, I had my computer set up just the way I wanted it. I had all my favorite blogs and articles to read, bookmarked. And here I am, starting over.

I'm getting sick of the "starting over" theme playing in my life over the last five years. Really, really sick of it!

I bought one year of Geek Squad help so I'm bringing my Macbook in to see if they can save all the data on the hard drive. If only I'd have payed attention to the little voice saying "back up your computer". I got as far as getting the portable back up hard drive out of storage and onto my desk but there it sits.

So I'm trying out a new iMac for two weeks. So far, the screen seems too big, but then after almost 4 years of the little Macbook screen, that's to be expected. I'm still torn over the portability issue. I haven't had a desktop computer for over 5 years except for the ones at the store and am not sure about lugging this beast to and from the Geek Squad at Best Buy.

One thing's for certain, I feel lost. Tried to wish my nephew Happy Birthday on Facebook, but can't remember my log in ID or password. Tried to pay a bill online and couldn't remember the User ID or Password. On my old Mac, everything was "remembered" and I had a document with all the IDs and passwords in case something happened. Foolishly, however, I hadn't backed up the info recently. Sigh....

I really hope the Geek Squad can save the data, or I'll have to start my book over and have no photos of the last 4 years. Loosing the photos alone will break my heart. Another point for not only backing up, but using flicker or some such place to save your photos!!

I'm too bummed to continue writing, sorry. Now stop reading and go back up your computer and especially your photos RIGHT NOW! You'll thank me for it later when your machine croaks without warning or you foolishly put liquid near it. Life is short in so many ways.

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It's Always Something...

The day before yesterday, I was sitting at my desk with my little Macbook in front of me, minding my own business when the universe decided to intervene and give me something new to fret about. Very rarely do I have any food or liquids by my computer, but that day I had a tall glass of ice water sitting about a foot from my Mac.

A sneeze suddenly came over me and I grabbed a kleenex only to have my little finger catch the rim of the almost full glass which fell all over my desk and keyboard. EEEK! I immediately flipped my Mac upside down to let the water drain out. Ran to the kitchen for paper towels to sop everything up. I then used canned air to spray the water out of the keyboard.

I put some paper towels on the keyboard, closed the machine and let it sit upside down in hopes all the liquid would seep out. Well, as my father used to say "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride". Maybe not politically correct, but the gist of this old saying fit my predicament.

Nothing I tried could raise my Mac from the dead. The poor machine just made horrid high pitched beeping noises that drove Blue barking-crazy. So this post comes to you from my friend's PC. She's letting me borrow it today. I also checked online for new computers but since I had no intention of buying a new one in the remote future, I'm not up on what's out there.

You may not realize it but having a dead TV and now a deceased computer is shocking. I've felt totally cut off from the world! I actually had to use an old paper "yellow pages" book to get a phone number I needed. How prehistoric! Also, no TV shows in the evening or music (dead iPod also) or blogs or email. Total isolation. It's the weirdest feeling.

I'm shocked that so much of my life revolves around the computer. Funny, how subtlety a habit or in this case technology can sneak in and become embedded in your life. Another old saying goes, "you don't know what you got till it's gone". How true, how true.

P.S. For whatever reason, the quotes in the right hand column no longer are in a script font. I have no idea why and probably won't get to the solution till I solve my computer dilemma. As Gilda Radner said, "It's always something..." and she was so right.

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Changing Perspective

As my post-divorce days of surfing the internet and sleeping continue, I found an interesting statement in an online article entitled "Smart Ways to Save Money on Healthy Foods" by Fitbie magazine.

Since part of the impetus in my eating pre-made salads, etc. was the fact that I was throwing out a lot of spoiled food, the following statement intrigued me. The rut I found myself in was due in part to the way I'd lived for over 30 years. Being married involved cooking a fresh meal every night. I had all the proportions down pat and we rarely had left overs or threw anything out.

“One of the most important things is planning ahead, so you can use what you already have in your freezer, cupboards, and fridge.” says Peggy Martin, lead author of the Iowa State University Extension website Spend Smart, Eat Smart. "We know from research that a lot of food goes to waste.” The average American family throws away 14% of their food, according to a USDA study. This adds up to almost $600 each year. So make a point to use what you have in the cupboards, or have a plan about how you will do so, before you go shopping again. By preparing before you hit the market, you will also be less likely to make costly impulse buys. Courtesy of Fitbie.

While I thought I'd altered my patterns a few years ago, to the point where I just cooked or grilled some chicken or fish and served it with a vegetable or salad. I hadn't changed my shopping habits which focused on buying meat, fish and produce in volume since the price was so much better than for single items.

Now this is a fine practice if you're cooking for two or more, in a good place mentally and sharing it all with a partner. It's not so good when you're where I am. I always prepare a shopping list, being even more strict about not buying on impulse, but I hadn't altered my approach to food buying.

After reading the article, I re-thought today's shopping list. You see, I have some chicken frozen in the fridge and if I don't see myself making ribs anytime soon, why buy them? Plus, I still had a pound of cooked chicken, some Genovese Pesto, romaine lettuce, marinated mozzarella balls and Lucques olives. Did I really need a pre-made salad? Couldn't I just muster the energy to toss the lot together?

Now the only drawback to this is that the sales end on Tuesday and after checking, there aren't any ribs or Foster Farm chickens on sale for the coming week, but then if I really want chicken, all I have to do is thaw what's in the fridge and toss it in a fry pan or on the grill. And there's always the Trader Joe's salads which I can replenish tomorrow. So, here's to less food in the trash can and to not spending money on things I don't need at the moment.

Of course, not running errands means that Mr. Blue is cookie-less, which is not sitting well with him, but I think he'll endure till tomorrow!



BBQ Ribs Post

Stater Bros. markets have baby back ribs on sale again this week for $2.79/lb. (1.94 E/0.5 kg). This is a pretty darn good price, depending on how meaty they are. Meanwhile, Von's has "extra meaty" baby back ribs on sale for $3.47 (2.42 E). Needless to say I'm contemplating purchasing a slab. Only problem is that it means I'll have to prepare food. After two weeks of salads and little sandwiches, I'd like something else. Maybe I'll just freeze them till I'm ready to light up the grill.

It's just too hot for anything other than cool foods, even though I'd really like a change. When I get around to cooking them, I'll be using the method that I discovered over 15 years ago. Prior the this revelation, I used to just put the ribs on the grill with barbeque sauce and cook. The results were less than perfect...usually dry with burnt BBQ crust. A few years ago, after much research I put together my own recipe for a rub. It really adds so much to the final taste outcome.

To begin, remove the silver skin from the back of the ribs. This is something I'd never done 15 years ago. Fine Cooking has an easy explanation and photos describing how to do it. There are also several video versions such as: You Tube and You Tube. I usually rise the slab and dry it, placing it on 2-3 layers of paper towels on the counter. See the links above for how to pull off the membrane or silver skin. Using a dry paper towel is key to this working easily. Then using heavy duty foil lay your slab in the center and work your rub into the bottom of the ribs, flip over and rub the top so the whole slab is evenly coated.

Then fold the long sides of the foil up and fold together kind of like this video showing how to cook fish in parchment. You're not using parchment, but the technique is the same. Ignore all the info in the video  except for how to fold the packet (unless you want to make fish). Also note that the meat should be laid on the dull side of the foil, shiny side out. This helps with the slow cooking. Finish by closing the ends. Every now and then a rib will poke through the heavy foil, in that case, I wind up wrapping it all in another piece of heavy duty foil. Place packet on jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with raised edges and pop it into a 200F (92.2C) oven for several hours. If I'm making just one slab for me, I slow cook the ribs for about 3 hours, sometimes 4.

Once the time is up, remove the tray and let sit for 5 minutes, turn the oven to 400F (204.4C). Then open the packet, lift out the ribs with care (see notes below for steps used when removing after grilling) and place on another cookie sheet with a lip (kind of like a jelly roll pan). Brush with BBQ sauce and bake in  400F oven for 5-10 minutes taking care to remove if the sauce starts to burn. Remove from oven, tent with foil for 5 minutes. Place on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut into individual ribs and serve.

If you prefer the grill, this is what I do and it was worked out by trial and error. Set the grill on the lowest setting and put the foil-wrapped slab onto the upper warming shelf in the grill. My grill has 3 burners so I only turn one on to very low. If you have no warming shelf on your gas grill, then set up a cool zone by leaving for example, 2 out of 3 burners off and put your packet as far from the heat as possible. Sorry, I have no idea what to tell you for a charcoal grill. Possibly Google "slow cooking ribs on a Weber grill" or "slow cooking ribs on a charcoal grill".

After about 20 min. on low heat, I turn the grill off and set a timer for 20 minutes. Then I turn the single burner back on. I've found this works for my grill by trial and error. When the temperature gauge rises to 300F (148.8C) I turn the grill off. When it drops below 100F (37.7C) I turn the burner back on. A grill (at least mine) just doesn't have as much control as an oven. But when it's 90+F (32.2C) out, it beats having to heat up the house and I've found the process of slow cooking ribs like this is very forgiving. This process goes on for about 2 hours at which point I turn the grill off letting the ribs sit in the cooling grill for half an hour.

At this point I take the packet off the grill using a cookie sheet with sides in case some juice escapes. I turn two of the burners back on to medium-high. In the house I carefully open the packet while it sits on the cookie sheet using pot holders and tongs. The slab is left on the sheet and brought back outside to the hot grill. Using tongs I carefully lift it off the sheet and place on the grill over the two burners. At this point, using a silicone brush I apply the BBQ sauce, close the grill and set the timer for 5 minutes.

At the end of 5 minutes, I move the slab to the unlit burner and turn off all but one burner. After five more minutes, I bring the slab inside on the same cookie sheet, tent with foil for 5 minutes to rest. Next the ribs are moved to a cutting board, cut into individual ribs with a sharp knife and served. They are always juicy, the meat falls off the bone and the sauce on top is cooked just right, not burned. These really are melt-in-your-mouth delights.

Since this is really "finger" food, I usually serve with fresh corn on the cob and skip utensils altogether.

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Holy Cow!

Or perhaps I should say Holy Pig. Forgot to mention that when I stopped at TJ's and Pavilions yesterday to pick up some salads and so forth, I cruised the meat counter. Saw some nice pork chops and thought that would be a little change from the last few weeks of salads.

Well, I almost passed out..."on sale" they were $6.49/lb. (4.55E/1/2K)!! Last time I looked, about a month ago, they were $4.49!!!! 

You'll recall my Pea Post about the movie Guarding Tess a while back. In the movie Shirley McLaine tells Nicholas Cage to run to the store and pick up a can of Le Seuer peas which would cost $0.59. I had just purchased a can of the same day I found my note for...$2.29!!!! I'm really starting to feel like my parents in the depression when "bread only cost $0.10 a loaf, but no one had $0.10"!!!!

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This and That Post

Haven't posted for several days because it's the sixth day of a killer headache in my right eye and right half of my head. I had to force myself to go out and get some food since last night's dinner was 4 strips of cheese and Campbell's chicken noodle soup out of the can. Pretty pathetic, huh? So I really needed to restock on salads. And crackers. And orange juice. And chocolate milk. And so on.

Mission accomplished as the saying goes and I even got into see the ophthalmologist! Good news, it's probably a sinus condition. My eyes are fine. Yay!

Trader Joe's is such a wonderful store! I went there and to another today with a list (so there'd be no impulse buying). TJ's had every single thing on my list. The other, Pavilions (part of the Vons/Safeway chain), only had 50% of what I needed. Pretty sad. So, tomorrow, I'll be going out once again only this time to two other stores in hopes of "stocking the larder" for at least another week.

While my "new" style of buying "prepared" fresh foods does have its draw-backs such as lots of recyclables, it has achieved it's goal of getting me to eat something reasonably healthy. Unless of course, I run out, like last night and have to resort to less than ideal food choices. So, for the moment, all is well.

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Corgi of the Day

Guess what? Blue was featured on The Daily Corgi blog today! Laurie Eno, the blog mistress and lover of all things Corgi did a lovely write up for Mr. Blue. I loved her caption for his toilet paper exploits..."I saw it on House and Garden TV! You like?"

If you haven't checked her blog out as I suggested in an earlier post, you really should. Seeing those cute little faces and "pantaloonies" is a great way to start your day. And if you're feeling down, you won't be for long, believe me!
Mr. Demille. I'm ready for my close up.

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Salsa and Ceviche Post

Cruising some of my favorite blogs this morning in the lovely overcast light of the day, I ran across Jerry's blog again, Cooking By the Seat of My Pants. He posted his recipe for Pico de Gallo also known as Salsa Fresca. It immediately reminded me of my version of Salsa or Pico de Gallo which I synthesized  from my Ceviche recipe. It's extremely light and fresh tasting.

Haven't made it in ages and this post has suddenly whet my appetite. It's perfect for hot weather and can be constructed in increments so I'm not daunted by too much kitchen time. It's so good that I've eaten it with crackers or bruschetta for a main course. Sometimes accompanied by a few Lucques or Provencal olives. The Provencal olives are available in bulk at Whole Foods. Pitted and swimming in Herbs de Provence with olive oil. Little droplets of heaven.

Yesterday I came across a few articles about foods to eat in hot weather to keep one's cool. Interestingly, they advised against ice cream since it takes more energy to digest and thus heats up one's body. The articles listed meals of fruits, salads, legumes and veggies which contain a high percentage of water thus require less energy to digest. They also suggested skipping beef (lots of energy needed to process). Contrary to what one would think the articles recommended eating spicy foods. Personally, I won't be hitting the hot peppers any time soon, but you can bet the next time I go to the store I'll be picking up the ingredients for this dish. Promise I'll take pics of the final product.

So here's my simple little salsa recipe which is looking pretty good right now.

Christine's Simple Salsa
6 - 2" tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced
1 onion diced finely
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice (see note below*)
11.5 pz. (1 can) tomato juice
1/2 c. chopped cilantro

1/3 c. fresh oregano leaves, chopped slightly
1 bay leaf
jalapenos to taste (I never use them)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, tossing them together. Cover and refrigerate. Will keep in the fridge for several days (if you can restrain yourself).
*Note:  try to use Valencia juice oranges vs. Navels. Juice from Navels can turn slightly bitter after a few hours.

Since I mentioned it, here's my Ceviche recipe. It's equally yummy.

1 lb. very fresh swordfish
2/3 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
4 tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced
1 onion, finely diced
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 c. tomato juice
1/3 c. fresh oregano leaves, chopped finely
1 bay leaf
1/4 -1/3 c. chopped cilantro
2 t. chopped jalapeno peppers (I never add these)
1/2 c. small green olives with or without stones
Salt & Pepper

Skin the swordfish, remove bones. Dice the filet into 1/4" cubes and marinate in lime juice for 4-6 hours. Marinating in the acidic lime juice actually "cooks" the fish. Just don't leave it too long or the swordfish will turn to mush. After fish has been marinated, place in a non-reactive strainer, discarding the juices. Place fish and all remaining ingredients in a bowl and toss. Cover and refrigerate. Keeps for 2-3 days in my experience. Serve in a large bowl or small individual ones with crackers and/or bruschetta.

Enjoy in the shade with a lemonade or glass of viognier.

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Drowning in Plastic Post

There's been an interesting development in my plan to eat better and waste less. Turns out, it's the amount of plastic, containers and bags, that comes with this choice which I find annoying though necessary. Luckily I have a huge (I mean HUGE) blue recycling bin. But seriously, I hadn't noticed this "problem" when actually buying unprocessed foods and preparing/cooking them. There was much less packaging.

This was a stunning revelation to me yesterday as I noticed how quickly my garbage bag filled up and needed changing. The amount of plastic I saw forced me to retrieve all plastic containers from the garbage, wash them out, let them dry and dump them in the recycling bin. I probably don't have to wash the containers, but with this heat (going over 100 F {37+ C} tomorrow) I don't want to encourage any ants.

I had never noticed the amount of packaging in prepared food before, since I seldom purchased it. This may be just the thing I need to get back to my basic meat (chicken, turkey, fish) and veggie cooking ways. I have to say though that not being "stranded" by myself at 9 p.m. with no dinner on the horizon ('cause I didn't cook it) has been a benefit to my mental and physical health.

Maybe it's a combo of realizing that for me to buy a whole melon, is silly. I'll never finish it before it spoils. So maybe, that's the kind of thing to purchase prepared. And if I get my rear out early enough before the heat, and set up the patio umbrellas for shade, it won't be so torturous to contemplate grilling some chicken.

This is an embarrassing post in the sense that so many individuals around the world have nowhere near what I have in options, going hungry and homeless. So right now, I'm saying a silent prayer to all the gods of the earth to send blessings to those less fortunate than me. I am truly lucky.

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