Changeables from McDonalds! These happy meal premiums turned out to be rather popular with kids and transformable robot collectors. The fast food chain produced three different series of Changeables in 1987, 1989 and 1990.
Sonny and Ali and their pets! Sonny raises chickens in her apartment’s tiny courtyard, although Chester (the big red one) and a few others make their way into her home, and Ali’s mom runs an equestrian center where they keep Shaderai (and visit her (and mom) every weekend).
I like writing stuff like this. I always get a bit nervous, though. You can only base it off your own experiences and we’re so different. Oh, and because of anxiety but that’s off-topic! I’m motivated by the thought of helping even just one person. Getting a good deal and shopping cheaply is always going to be a miniature obsession of mine. Even if I got hit by a truck of money I’d still want to optimize my grocery cart.
Now, that said. I live in a metropolitan area in the Midwestern USA. Urban and rural dwellers face different challenges with food prices and food accessibility, and that variation becomes even more widespread by region and by country. Some of these are applicable to most people, but I’d really encourage anyone with experience in different locales, regions, and countries to flesh out their own tips as well.
Base recipes around many of the same ingredients: Notice how a lot of recipes start the same way? Onion, garlic, celery, carrot? Potato? Diced tomatoes? If you write out your meal plan to share common ingredients each given week, you won’t be buying a million different ingredients.
Make a shopping list and a meal plan: It isn’t everyone’s style, but I find having a decently clear idea of what I want for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks stops a lot of impulse buying and “what the Hell do I do with this now?” when I get it all home. It also gets me out of the store faster and I’m all about the lifestyle. Time is money.
Keep bulk cooking recipes in your repertoire and embrace leftovers: I’m planning to write an in-depth guide on bulk cooking in the future. There are tons of stews, chilis, curries, and casseroles that can be made in excessive quantities for around $20 or less. Keep some in the fridge fresh to eat right away, and freeze the rest! You can pull them down for lunch or dinner whenever you need them. Also, leftovers. I know some people struggle to eat the same food many times in a row, but it definitely adds up quickly to prepare new meals for every day. Having your freezer stocked with these bulk cooked foods can provide the relief you need from any monotony in your meal plan that week.
Make classic and common ingredients the staples of your meals: We’re often enticed to try out the hot new foods trending in the blogosphere and news reports, but personally I find they’re mostly convoluted marketing terms and tangent reminders to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You don’t need goji berries, pomegranates, pre-made green smoothies, chia seeds, or any of the nonsense the computer screen is screaming at you to eat. Many common foods of yore are often just as, and sometimes more, beneficial as trendy foods. Cabbage, spinach, potatoes, carrots, apples, bananas, peanut butter, eggs, dried beans, rolled oats, and dried brown rice are some of the major workhorse foods that are extremely cheap.
Don’t shun frozen and canned ingredients: You know what’s kind of expensive? Buying enough fresh tomatoes to make pasta sauce or tomato based stews. Berries, for much of the year. And, several more. Depending on how old the produce on your store shelf is, it’s not uncommon for flash-frozen fruits and vegetables to actually have retained more of the nutrition, too.
Shop sales: This sounds a little obvious, but flip open the ad for your favorite shop and see what specials they’re running. Plan some meals that pull in some of the items your store is offering up for cheap that week!
Buy produce that is in-season: Take a clue of what to buy based on what the Earth is currently providing your location. It will be fresher, taste better, and have traveled shorter distances, too. There are good lists out there about what’s seasonal and when. It will vary by climate, of course. There are also some fruits and vegetables that are always available at decent prices. Ahem, another plug for bananas.
Buy in bulk when possible: Understandably, this isn’t always an option. However, if the stars align and you find yourself with a few extra bucks and chicken quarters are on sale for something crazy like $.49/lb, load ‘em up. Freeze ‘em up. I also find that canned tomatoes or cooking stock will go on great sales and I’ll snatch a few extra up to shave a few dollars off in the long run.
Check if your favorite grocery spot does e-coupons and rewards: Coupons for stuff I actually eat is a bit of a rarity. Seriously, 80% of them are junk food and plastic bags. Boo. Oh, how much I’d love it you got coupons for produce. However, many stores offer digital coupons and rewards for shopping at their store. On occasion, I’ll snatch one up for an actual food item I want, but the real hook and sinker is my store of choice has a rewards program. Spend $200 in four weeks? Bam, $5 off your next basket. Uhm, yes please? It usually means you’ll have to become loyal to that store but if you’re already besties, why not?
Water is now your favorite beverage: There are a million reasons to drink water. I’m not saying you can never have your favorite refreshments, but supporting a serious coffee, juice, or soda habit can really add up. If you’re fortunate enough to have great tap water, it’s almost free. If you need filtered water or water bottles, it’s still less money over time when you make it your main squeeze.
Eat a little less meat: This sometimes gets people’s panties in a twist but you know what? Meat’s expensive, fam. Sometimes absolutely nothing I care for is on sale, either. We usually only eat it for dinner, but occasionally the divination of my holy document, the sales ad, imparts the words “vegetarian week.” Do what works for you, but I think it’s always very valid advice when trying to get a grocery bill down.
steak was the first thing to go missing. I’d left it to defrost in the
fridge overnight, but by morning, only the plate it had been sitting on
remained. I asked my husband, Connor, about it, but he said he hadn’t
touched it, and our seven year old son, Jamie, was so thoroughly grossed
out by raw meat that I didn’t bother questioning him. It was a mystery I
wasn’t sure would ever be solved; the kind that would no doubt be a
funny story you tell at family get-togethers in the future.
And then the sausages vanished a few days later, followed by a couple
of chicken quarters some time after that, and then a whole spiral cut
ham I’d been planning to cook for Connor’s birthday dinner.
“I swear, babe, I don’t know what’s going on,” Connor said while we gazed down at the empty space that the ham had been in.
We decided it could only be one of two things: either we had a very
single-minded thief breaking in every couple of nights or Jamie had
suddenly gotten over his aversion to raw meat.
proud of you and your dozens of beautiful hate-filled children
… My accent in that video is inexplicable. I have no idea what I’m doing with my mouth. Who even knows.
Hundreds. There are hundreds of them. I am so delighted. They are beautiful. They are hateful little lizards and they want to eat me. Middle-Little was in there with me and got a shot of them clustering around me waiting to eat me while I messed with my phone. Oh it’s in my texts not my dropbox, I’ll have to get it later. It’s great, they’re terrifying.
Farmsister was cleaning out her freezer the other day and found some pig livers she had no intention of eating, so she thawed them and brought them out for the chicklets, as she calls them. (There’s still another flock of chickens, and *they’re* “the chickens”, so the baby ones are the chicklets.) They were skeptical, but figured it out pretty quick. The protein is good for them; chickens aren’t naturally vegetarian.
I noticed that the friendliest chick there is a strangely all-white creature, and I realized that’s because it’s got to be one of the ISA Brown chickens– their normal red-brown color is a sex-linked trait, and the males are white. So he’s a cockerel that snuck in with the hen chicks! They do grow up to be quite pretty, but they were supposed to be all hens… Still, I like that he’s friendly. It’ll be nice to have a friendly rooster.
Speaking of roosters, the main man in the old flock is a venerable golden rooster named Fabio i’ve mentioned here before, and Farmsister watched him literally fight off a red-tailed hawk last week. He is going to retire to another farm when the current flock is decommissioned, and actually there are two people who want him, so they’ll have to draw straws.
He straight-up just fought a hawk, which is amazing.
OH the other thing– tonight I learned how to safely pick up a full-size adult turkey. They’d gotten out, but it was dark so they were asleep. So I picked up a sleepy turkey– you grab them by the armpits, basically, hold their wings right near where they attach to the body– and carried it around, and it sort of confusedly peeped at me and leaned back to stretch its feet out because it couldn’t understand why it couldn’t touch the ground, but it was sleepy so it didn’t have the wherewithal to get upset about it, and I carried it back to the fence and set it down, and it sat there and blinked, then got up and staggered to the pile of its siblings and went back to sleep.
Their bodies are so warm that just from carrying it that short distance, my hands were warm for twenty minutes.
We gotta process them tomorrow. I always feel bad, they’re so beautiful. They have huge dark beady eyes and soft, soft feathers, much more beautiful than the scraggly meat chickens. And they make these soft confused peeping noises that make you feel sorry for them. But they’re really, really, really dumb, and they’re delicious, and seriously if you hold them by the wings and turn them upside down they pass the fuck out.
I still won’t be doing the killing anytime soon. No thanks. It’s too much.
My parents took me out to my favorite restaurant (a Yemeni place) and we’ve been there many times. Like, the owner usually comes out to talk to us and my sister once ate 8 naan, and the waiters thought she was crazy. My dad also tips really well, so also the waitstaff love us too. But our waitress was new and I will forever laugh at my dad trying to order for us.
My dad: Ok, so we want a pitcher of the green stuff
My dad: Yeah, that’s the stuff!
Waitress: Ok, a glass of the lime-
My dad: No, a pitcher, please. We’ll all be having the green stuff and you could probably bring two pitchers because we’ll drink all of it (side note, we did drink two pitchers)
My dad: We’ll have the chicken hummus and the (I forget the name but it was like a cilantro and buttermilk soaked pancake)
Waitress: Ok, I’ll put the appetizer in, or is that your main cour-
My dad: No, we’ll have the rice with extra crispy onions, and the lamb…
Waitress: Ok, (looks at my mom) and you’ll have
My mom: No, the large size. For all three of us.
My dad: And put a chicken on it.
My dad: We want the extra big rice and lamb with extra crispy onions and please put a chicken on it.
My dad: Yes, we want a whole chicken on top of that.
Waitress:……on top of that platter of food….
My dad: Yes.
(I think she thought he was kidding but wasn’t sure so we ended up getting a quarter chicken and were rather disappointed because the best part of this restaurant is delicious leftovers for dayyyyys)
(I will forever laugh at my dad saying “put a chicken on it”)
If anyone’s interested here’s the recipe from the 1700′s:
Marinade: -Juice of two large lemons -Add equal part of the vinegar of your choice (Malt or cider, couldn’t find those so I used regular vinegar) -1 tsp of salt -1 tsp of pepper -2 bay leaves -¼ tsp of cloves -½ cup of green onions(or shallots)
Quarter the chicken, or add the individual pieces (e.g breast, thigh, leg) to the marinade. Leave in marinade for 3 hours.
Batter: -1 ½ cup of flour -Add white wine until similar to pancake batter(you could use cider or water instead of wine if preferred) -3 egg yolks(add more wine if needed) -1 tsp of salt -Mix until it’s even
Cooking it: -Fill pot with the oil of your choice -Heat oil -Fry until a light mahogany brown
Garnish: -Add extremely dry parsley to the oil -Fry in small batches
Pozole is a hearty Mexican stew traditionally made with pork, hominy and has either a red or green color depending on the chiles used for the soup base. Other variations also exist using chicken, beef, seafood, beans and there’s even a white pozole. The pozole is served alongside shredded cabbage, onion, radishes, lime, oregano, salsas, sour cream and tostadas.
Corn was a sacred plant to Aztecs and the other indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. One of the main components of pozole is the hominy, which is basically processed maize or corn. Aztecs, and the other indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, cooked pozole only on special occasions. Now this is where things start getting weird and a bit gross. In a book called “General History of the Things of New Spain” written by Fray Bernandino de Sahagun, he describes pots of stew with corn and pieces of human flesh being eaten on special occasions. The human meat came from the sacrificed people, who’s hearts were ripped out and offered to the gods, their bodies were chopped up and cooked in the pozole. After the Spanish arrived they banned cannibalism and pork became the meat used in pozole. Wait it gets even weirder, you’re probably wondering how but it does. Apparently pork was the meat of choice because “it tasted very similar” to human flesh. This bit of history is probably something most of us Mexicans want to forget or ignore, so let’s move on.
Thankfully the only thing that remained from the “special” ancient feast was that modern day Mexicans still celebrate special occasions with pozole. If you have Mexican friends or family you know that pozole is served at many special celebrations. My family was no different and so pozole was often the food we ate on special occasions.
My mami (mom) makes the best pozole rojo. A few months ago when I made pozole for the first time I called her and asked for her recipe. But I told her that I was going to make a chicken version rather than pork. I’m not the biggest pork fan to begin with and now after reading the story above I don’t think I’ll be eating pork anytime soon. Many of the ingredients she told me are ones that I can’t find here. But I told her I would do my best to stick to her recipe minus all the pork meat.
While I prepared the pozole now and then I would get flash backs to my childhood home. As the pozole simmered and the scents filled the kitchen my excitement grew. It has been a really long time since I last ate pozole. A taste of the broth and my heart fluttered. Perhaps it wouldn’t win awards but this pozole tasted great to me and most importantly made me feel like I was home. My heart and stomach were filled with joy.
Chicken Pozole Rojo
broth: 1 whole chicken, quartered and skinned if desired 1 medium onion, peeled enough water to cover chicken, I used about 10 cups
1. Boil the chicken until the meat is soft and falling apart. Drain reserving the meat and broth in separate containers. In total you should have 8 cups of broth to use. Set aside while you prepare the pozole sauce base.
chile and pozole base: 3 guajillo 3 pasilla 3 ancho 2 arbol, I added them for extra heat 4 garlic cloves 1 medium onion, peeled and halved 1 tsp salt 1-2 tbsp water 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 large dried bay leaf 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano salt to taste
1 medium can of Mexican hominy or maiz pozolero blanco, drained
topping options: shredded white cabbage slice radishes lime, I used lemons finely chopped onion cilantro avocado crema or Mexican sour cream salsa or hot sauce of choice tostadas to serve on the side
1. Over a comal or griddle toast the chiles but careful not to burn them. Also toast the garlic and onion for 5 minutes. Remove from comal and allow to cool.
2. Once cooled place the chiles, garlic, onion and 1 tsp salt into a blender. You will need to add a tablespoon or two of water to help blend into smooth sauce. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and discard seeds and any remaining chunks.
3. In a large pot heat the oil, once warm add the chile sauce and cook for a few minutes. Add the drained hominy, bay leaf, oregano and salt. Next gently pour the drained chicken broth, in total it was 8 cups of broth, give the soup a good mix. Allow to simmer for an hour over medium low heat and covered. While the soup is simmering remove the meat from the boiled chicken, discarding bones and skins. Shred the chicken meat then add to the simmering pozole. Continue simmering until ready to serve.
Serve topped with any or all of the suggested toppings.
I just took the ribs off the smoker. They were deemed “incredible!” Using a smoker instead of a grill makes a tremendous difference. I had them at about 275º-300º for about three hours. The pink color is from the smoke– they are completely done, and tender enough to just pull the meat off the bone. I used oak, cherry, and apple wood for the smoke. There are a few chicken leg quarters in there as well.
can i tell you about quartering a chicken? can i tell you about how easy it is to pop the joints of out their place to cut through? which veins of fat to locate to easily seperate the thigh from drumstick? the sound it makes when you press the big knife through the sternum? this is what i assume true happiness to feel like. actual comfort.
the warmth of a lover. the pride upon feeling competant. knowing someone will look upon you favourably. quarting a chicken.