Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Couponing for Seafood

It really pays to scan the wine and beer aisles for coupons and rebates because sometimes you can combine the offers for amazing deals.

For instance, today I bought:
Beautiful X-Large Wild Caught Shrimp on sale for $6.99 pound at Harris Teeter
I bought 1.5 lbs. for  a total of $10.50.
then I used a wine tag for $1 off seafood (instant savings) which doubled because coupons double this week
=$8.50 for 1.5 lbs.
then I will send in a beer rebate for $5 off of a purchase of $10 or more of seafood (they don't care about the coupons, as long as the original price is greater than 10 bucks)
=$3.50 for 1.5 lbs. of shrimp OR $2.30 a pound for shrimp

I did a very similar deal with chicken.
2.5 lbs. of chicken breast were on sale at HT for $4.99 ea. (1.99 lb.)  I bought three packages for a total of $14.99
Then I used a 1.00 off of chicken wine tag (instant savings) which doubled (I used 3 of them for $6 off)
=$8.99 for (3) 2.5 lb. packages of chicken
then subtract the $6 beer mail in rebate when I buy 10 bucks or more of chicken
=$2.99 for (3) 2.5 lb. packages or .39/lb. for chicken breast
Now it isn't local and not sustainable.  We are working going more that route by buying in bulk but we can't do that until we buy a gigantic freezer.  If I keep making amazing deals like that we should have the money saved up for that in no time.  For now, it just going to have to work this way. 

I have even better rebates on seafood and meat that don't require a wine or beer purchase.  One will give me $5 off when I buy $5 or more of seafood.  That's basically free seafood!  Those don't expire as quickly as the one's above though so I'll wait for another deal to get my money's worth for those. 

Pretty incredible huh?!  We love seafood but it's so expensive.  It's nice to be able to get the good stuff and still stick within a budget!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Monday Garden Update! and Weekend in Review!

There wasn't much going in the garden this week, mainly because we were a little busy preparing for an extra special GreenEyes celebration weekend.  He turned two last week!

G-ma came down to celebrate on Friday.  Then Saturday, we had a few good friends over for some debauchery...  a.k.a. some slip n' slidin' and barbequein'.  I'd include pictures here but I promised no posting of pictures without permission and I don't have permission, go figure!!  I'll just have to settle for my husband's grillin' pic...  *sigh*.

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Despite all the chaos, we did manage to get a little done in the garden.  Nick picked a giant tub of green beans.  This was only from the first bit I planted.  I planted about 4 times that so we will be expecting an onslaught in a few more weeks.  Needless to say we can't eat them all so I got busy preserving them today.



In other garden news, we have our first ripe big boy tomato!!  It's the first of the big tomatoes to ripen so we are thrilled!!!

I think that's it for us this week!  For more garden fun, check out Feet off the Table's Monday Garden Club!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shallot Harvest!!

Some Hanging Shallots in My Pantry

I just couldn't wait for my shallots to come in this year just to try this delicious recipe for a roasted shallot vinaigrette dressing. Nothing beats fresh, homemade salad dressing.  This particular recipe has only 5 ingredients, olive oil, pan roasted shallots, vinegar and salt and pepper. The simplest recipes are almost always the best.  Shallots have such a wonderful, sweet, distinctive flavor that I just love and a small shallot goes a long way as far as flavor. Last night, I drizzled the dressing over my grape tomatoes which I halved.  It was one word: phenomenal!  I can't wait to try it again over top some of home grown mesclun greens with a little feta and some roasted pecans this weekend.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Update on the Monday Garden Update

So, in my previous post I thought the potatoes were dead but apparently I just lack experience.  I knew they were going to die back eventually but I was thinking this would occur sometime in August, not mid-June.  I had begun to prepare myself for no potato harvest this year.

 Dead-looking Potato Plants

After some nudging from a garden friend (you know who you are), I quickly referenced  the seed packet the potatoes came and I realized I had planted early to early/mid-season varieties.  These varieties take 90 days to harvest and I planted them in early March so that means they should be ready.  Go figure!


According to another garden blog, I need to wait 2-3 weeks after the plants are completely dead to ensure the potatoes are the  largest.  I only had two plants that have been dead that long so I harvested those today.  It will be a week or two or more before I finish the rest of the potatoes!   I got about 8ish pounds or so of potatoes from the two.  I don't know if the yields are good or bad but I don't really care.  I have expensive blue potatoes and fingerlings and they were delish for dinner tonight!  From just dinner tonight I have made up for the $3.00 I paid for the potato seed because that's what specialty potatoes start at.

Russian Fingerling Potatoes
 Potatoes Prior to Roasting.

The Shallots have also been at death's door from some time as well.  The tops have withered and turned brown at the tips.  I planted 6 shallots total but I haven't harvest them all, just two for now.   The bulb packet they came in said they would be ready mid summer as well.  I'll be hanging them dry so they will store.  I've been eying an awesome Shallot Vinagrette dressing for some time (I'm sure I'll post about it later so stay tuned) so I'm thrilled!!!  I don't know why these are so expensive in the store but they are so delicious!  I'm very excited about these shallots!

 Yummy Havested Shallots!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Monday Garden Update - What to do with Blue Potatoes?

I thought I'd start this update with some family fun.  GreenEyes got in the garden this week to help me pick some green beans. 
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It was a scary proposition and he did step on a few plants but he did a good job as helper.  Of course, he loves dirt so we had to bath him twice when the water became so dirty and there was a nice ring around the tub to scrub down afterward.

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My potatoes (fingerlings and adirondack blue) do not appear to be doing well at all.  They have almost completely died back in the last two weeks.  I don't know if this is because of the hard rain we got a while back that caused some instability and erosion or what.  These were once very full plants.


Some of the soil has eroded away so much that I can actually see a blue potato.  Will these potatoes keep?  Should I dig what I can out or leave 'em?  I'm not sure what to do.  For now, I filled dirt on top of the exposed potato but the plants are on death's door.


I'm having a similar issue with our shallots.   Where I planted one shallot, I now have 5 or 6 but the soil has eroded a bit around it.  They look full size to me and the plants around them have started to die back.


On a positive note, we have our first pepper.  This is a New Mexican Big Jim.  I'm hoping I can make some green chili chicken enchiladas with them.


The eggplants are flowering!  Mind you, I thought these were going to die and do nothing a while back so this is a delightful development.


We also have some acorn squash!  Yum!  We ate our first winter squash (the delicata variety, the acorn is not ready) Sunday night.  They were surprisingly good.  I thought they would lack flavor being so early but they were great.

Our pumpkin plant is recovering nicely from my ruthless attack upon it a few weeks ago.


Well, I suppose that's about all for this week's Monday Garden Update.  Be sure to check out Feet Off the Table's Monday Garden Club for more garden fun around the blogosphere!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Surprises!!

Well I'll be!  Nick found this wild blueberry bush in our woods.  Crazy.  This little bush tells me that if I can't get the blueberries to work in our yard than there is something wrong with my gardening. In a way, it's taunting me. 


This is just today's harvest!  I think it may be the last of the purple cauliflower and the broccoli though.  We have two more purple cauliflower plants out there but they are no where close to being done and it's hot out!  Try 90's with no end in sight.


Not only did we pick the above items from the garden today, we also picked these wild blackberries!


This is our current stash of squash that I will be pawning off on my friends, family, and neighbors.  You may notice the first mature winter squash (It's a delicata squash variety called Green Goliath) came in.  We are enjoying things really early this year.   The delicata is from the first flower buds so they aren't very big. 


I've had a couple awesome suprises this week I haven't even mentioned yet so I'll plenty more in the way of updates for Monday I assure you!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Monday Garden Club

A lot has happened in our garden last week.  As mentioned in the previous post our blueberries are starting to ripen.  Our bushes aren't very large as they have just been planted this year but we've been able to get 5 to 8 berries a day.  Next year will be the true test of whether or not they will work where we've placed them.




Our wild blackberries are starting to turn black.  I'm so excited about those!


Sadly, we had a very bad thunderstorm recently and it caused quite a bit of damage to our green bean plants, our tomatoes, and our squash.  Fortunately, most everything recovered naturally except the green beans.  We had to go back and stake those because several had completely toppled over.  Hopefully they will recover completely now that they are staked.

Toppled Green Bean Plants

Newly Staked Green Beans

We also staked up our tomatoes again.  They were already staked and caged but they needed even more reinforcing so we staked them again with a metal rod.

Before Staking

After Staking

I have so much squash I don't know what to do with it.  I suppose we will be donating it.  Our grape tomatoes and green beans are also starting to come in nicely!  (The weird stringy thing is a parsnip I dug up while thinning the bed.)


I put basil plants all over the garden and they are really starting to get big and bushy.  I'm delighted because it should be really big by the time the tomatoes are ripe so I can make a big ole batch of homemade roasted tomato basil soup!

Basil

The peas were on their way out so we got rid of them in anticipation of needing the space for the fall broccoli.  I also got rid of much of the old broccoli beds in anticipation of using them for a late summer planting of fall harvest peas (they will switch beds).  We planted the broccoli and cauliflower indoors this weekend but we will wait until July to direct sew the fall peas.  I also planted a small patch of brussel sprout seeds where the roquette and mache were growing.  I counted 100 days out from the first fall frost date and then gave myself an extra two weeks so hopefully we are planting at the right time!  It will be our first real go at those.

Newly Planted Brussel Sprout Seeds

I suppose that's about all for now!  Happy Gardening!!  For more gardening updates from around the blogosphere check out Feet Off the Table's Monday Garden Club!

Weekend in Review

Well, it's been another fabulous summer weekend here.  I had noticed that our own blueberry bushes were starting to turn ripe so I called the local patch and it turned out they were already past peak season!  So, we headed out Saturday morning at the crack of dawn to pick some of the last ripe blueberries and some raspberries at the nearby patch.

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This was the first year GreenEyes was able to participate in the picking.  He did a pretty good job!

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After that (it was only 9 in the morning) we took a leisurely country drive out to a separate orchard nearby for the first summer peaches.  After peach picking and lunch on the town, we got home and I made delicious peach jam while the kids took a nap (I may have taken a brief siesta too).  The jam is out of this world!  I made my favorite fluffy biscuits just to have an excuse to eat some this morning!

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Saturday night Nick had a brush pile to burn (leftover from work on the driveway) so we decided to do some smores that night.

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GreenEyes could never wait long enough for the marshmallows to cook before cramming them in his mouth.

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We opted not to do our long run this weekend.  We had an early morning on Saturday and needed a day of rest.  After a restful morning but ended up having a very active afternoon in the garden... more on that when I post for Monday Garden Club!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Purple Cauliflower Harvest!!!


The vegetables overfloweth!  Tonight we ate our 1st purple cauliflower.  Sadly, there are only 4 more in the garden.  I'm almost tempted to spring for purple cauliflower seeds (Graffitti) online and have them shipped. 


Picked This Morning!
We ate a couple florets raw and they were fabulous but we ended up lightly steaming a broccoli-cauliflower medley for dinner.



I served it with some homemade thin crust, light on the cheese, turkey pepperoni pizza.  Delish!


Monday, June 7, 2010

In season now!

Picked this today out of the garden....

Peas, broccoli, patty pan, and zukes. 

We are still getting mesclun mix too!  So exciting!!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Monday Garden Club. (We have purple cauliflower!!!)

I made a controversial decision today and ripped out all but one of our pumpkin plants.  We had 6 plants in the garden and even the one I left may die because I still had to obliterate parts of it entangled in the other plants.  My husband and kids love pumpkins and I do too but they were on their way to COMPLETE GARDEN DOMINATION and had started to climb my tomatoes and green beans. I simply could not allow this when all we will ever hope to get is a couple of pumpkins that we only will use for decoration! Our garden isn't big enough.

The pumpkin plants never saw it coming.

So, I ripped them out and put them in the compost bin.  I replaced them with some big but more reasonably sized winter squash which we do love to eat and store really well.  I did leave one lone pumpkin but if it so much as touches my pepper plants consider it gone too.  We will try to find another spot separated from the garden for the pumpkins next year.  So, it's sad but it had to be done.  Sorry pumpkins!

On a lighter note, we had our first *RIPE* grape tomato!!  I ate it right off the vine this week.

 The first red tomato of the season. 
Our green beans started flowering a couple weeks ago and we have itty bitty green beans on the plants.  I'm so psyched


My eggplants appear to be recovering from those nasty flea beetles.  Flea beetles are black bugs about the size of a pin needles that love to munch on eggplant and potatoes.  They jump like fleas when disturbed and they are a b*tch to kill.


Last, but not least we have purple cauliflower! I did not edit these photos.  They are crazy fuchsia colored.  It's a variety called 'Graffitti' that I picked up last year from Territorial Seed.  Apparently they retain their color when cooked so I can't wait to try them!


The cauliflowers are not quite ready for harvest but should be soon.  They are about the size of baseballs now.  I don't want to jinx myself, so maybe this is it?  I honestly didn't think it would happen at all this year.  I have read that the best way to get cauliflower in the mid-atlantic region is to do a fall harvest because the season gets too hot, too quickly here and the heads fail to develop due to heat stress.  We have been experiencing temps consistently in the 90s for a while now so it is definitely less than ideal for the cauliflower.  We may just have squeaked by thanks to our extra early transplant date.  It also helps that the part of the garden I put them in gets dappled shade in the afternoon.  I've also been watering it in the morning to help keep them cool.  So far, it looks like the measures we've taken have been working out.  **Crossing fingers**

In a week or two I will sow the fall crop of cauliflower.  I'm going to do an experiment and grow half via direct sow and half indoors and transplant them.  For fall, I chose a traditional white with a short maturity date.  Unfortunately we ran out of the purple cauliflower seeds from Territorial with this third attempt at growing it.  I couldn't find any purple cauliflower seeds locally and the shipping cost on one pack of seeds from online companies are ridiculous especially if you are going to get just one little pack (try 5 bucks).  So, traditional white is what we'll grow this fall.  Maybe next year we'll try the Graffiti again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pea Harvest!

I read somewhere that you should take off ripened peas as soon as possible to allow the rest of the peas to ripen.  I found this on some obscure forum, like Yahoo answers or something so I don't know how true it is.  I figured it couldn't hurt so I got to pickin' yesterday and we enjoyed our first batch of peas last night along with mesclun mix salad and broccoli.  Good eats!

Shelling peas is a lot of work!
My kids love to eat peas right off the vine in the garden (so much so they fight over them).  I like baby peas off the vine too but the ripe ones are a little strong and in need of a steaming in my opinion.  Of course, like my kids, my husband prefers them raw either way!

The zucchini will be ready any day now  and our first grape tomatoes are looking like they are about to turn red so we will be rolling in vegetables any day over here!  We couldn't help ourselves and ate our first batch of baby squash the night before last as well.   I tossed 'em in some minced garlic, a dash of olive oil and salt and roasted them in the oven.  YUMMY!  I forgot to take a pic of the roasted baby squash medley on Monday so I guess it'll be the next installment before I share a pic of that though!