Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rising cost of food

Has anyone else noticed the price of food going up? It's not just food, it's also non-food items such as cleaners, toilet paper, practical everyday non-food items are going up as well. It's summertime, and this is the time I love fresh fruit, but the cost of white seedless grapes are incredible. $1.29/lb at my local grocery store. I went to Costco today and bought 5 lbs for $6.29. Not bad. Bananas are on the rise too, except at Costco, where we bought 3 lbs for $1.30 (phenomenonal, I'm telling you). Even the cost of meat has risen, at our favorite local beef company, pork chops went from $1.99/lb to $3.99/lb. I am not kidding you. Boneless and skinless chicken breasts used to be $1.99/lb but they are on par with Costco now at $2.99/lb.

They also say that corn prices are on the rise due to the fact that ethanol is being produced as a form of alternative fuel. Funny how that article says "food prices should stay in check", as of late I have seen almost everything jump up in price. I'm shocked the huge 180 load box of Tide we buy that lasts us 6 months didn't go up in price either. It stayed at the same price we bought it at in January.

I've been pretty good about watching our food and non-food item budget and calculating what everything would end up costing us, and usually we're always under budget because I overbudget on purpose in case something else is needed. However, for this family, with the cost of everything going up, we went overboard this month and spent almost $500 on groceries and non-food groceries as well. I have never spent that much money in the past and it's not something I'm going to get used to, because it ended up causing us to be short in the budget. But how does one prepare for the rising cost of food? I don't think you can. I hate cutting corners and trimming the list down but I do it if it's necessary. To make money last, sometimes you have to.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Five foods (or dishes)

Five foods I will NEVER touch...

1. Goat
2. Brussel Sprouts
3. Foie Gras
4. Liver
5. Pig's Blood (aka "Chocolate" from my Filipino family members)

Five foods I am sick of at the moment...

1. Ground beef
2. Rice (ack! I know, such a no-no!)
3. Tomatoes
4. Honey Nut Cheerios
5. Russett Potatoes

Five foods I am craving...

1. Tri Tip
2. Salmon
3. Corn on the Cob
4. Cornbread (the sweet kind)
5. Banana Creme Pie

Five food ingredients I always have handy...

1. Onions/Garlic
3. Flour/Sugar/Baking Powder & Soda
4. Many spices & extracts
5. Canned pumpkin (you never know when the mood for Pumpkin Bread is going to strike!)

Five foods I think I could give up permanently...

1. Ground beef (LOL, see a pattern here?)
2. Carrots
3. Oranges and pineapples (I should anyhow because of my acid reflux disease)
4. Most chocolate bars (I'm serious! I don't crave chocolate, I crave baked goods)
5. Coleslaw (ick)

Five foods I know I could never give up...

1. Most cuts of beef (except ground...I can give that one up!)
2. Chicken breasts
3. Salad (as long as there is Hidden Valley Ranch around)
4. Corn
5. Cake

If you feel the mood, I implore you to write down your "Five Foods or dishes" as well!


Monday, June 25, 2007

Jonesin' for some good Chinese food

On Saturday night we were trying to figure out what to do for dinner and I basically told my husband to go to the local grocery store (Haggen's) and to their chinese Panda-express-like place to get what we call "Haggenese", but they shut down before we even got there, which was a bummer, so we ended up with pizza, which does NOT satisfy a Chinese food craving!

I've been to Kowloon Garden in Bellingham on Meridian Street as it was highly recommended by my SIL, but I wasn't too thrilled with it, and I think the reason why was due to the fact that the Chow Mein up here is different- you have to specify whether you want regular soft noodles or crispy noodles, otherwise they give you crispy noodles, which I hate. In California, it's always soft noodles. Their other entrees were okay. I've been to a couple of other places randomly out here, but I haven't found a Chinese restaurant that has wowed me yet. The next one I am going to try is also on Meridian Street (in the opposite direction from Kowloon Garden) called Orientoo, apparently they are really good.

What I need to do is just find my birth certificate and go up to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada one of these days!! I think I'd be in multicultural food heaven!

If you are a local to Whatcom County and have any suggestions or recommendations, please feel free to comment or leave me an email (in my profile), I'd love to hear what you like out here!

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

NFB: Getting heavy here (Note: about religion)

Yes, I realize I haven't been writing much about food lately...there is a lot of other things going on and a lot of stuff on my mind that I feel writing about it is the best way to help me manage my thoughts better.

WARNING: Discussion of Agnosticism, Atheism below. As mentioned in a previous posting, we do not have religion. I was raised in an Evangelical church but left it when I turned 16 because I was disgusted by the teachings and disagreed with the church on many issues (still do). I am now Agnostic and am dealing with a child who is becoming more and more aware of religion, so this is something we are now trying to handle in the best way possible.

About a year and a half ago I attended a Unitarian Universalist church as part of my studies on that "religion" (I don't know if you can call it a religion or what!) in my World Religions class. Having been in only Christian churches in the past, I was scared to go to this one, but in the end something inside made me feel like I was at home and I wanted to pursue it on my own time. I did go back once but then my grandfather passed away and we were in California for a short time, so I never did go back. I always had the intention of going back, but I just never got around to it, mainly because I am terrible about getting up on time for the whole church thing on a Sunday (which I deem as my Laundry day).

Now my daughter is becoming more and more interested and curious about God and religion. Of course, having Evangelical family members does not help our situation and recently I was faced with this. Long story short, I was shocked that my daughter was praying. Then I thought, why should I care? In the long run it's up to her to choose and I said that a long time ago. My husband, the hardcore Atheist, is a bit more open-minded about it than I am. Our goal is to raise our daughter in our non-traditional home hoping she won't join a cult or something, but by my pushing of the no religion thing on her, I realize I am setting her up for that in the future (at least possibly). So it's best to figure out if I should take her to some local churches now. Or maybe we should head back to the UU church, considering they do teach about all religions of the world (which is what I would prefer my daughter to learn about anyhow).

Now, getting myself up early on a Sunday morning will be the next challenge. We shall see.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

NFB: Goodbye to First Grade

My daughter is enjoying her last day of first grade right now and I'm asking, where did the time go? Granted, I am not as emotional over it as I was last year (thanks to Kindergarten graduation), but this year flew by.

We switched schools in the same school district because we moved in June of last year to the place we are in now. I was not very happy with the school she attended in Kindergarten. I mean, they had wonderful resources and everything, but there were a few things I was unhappy with. This past school year though, I became more involved in getting to know people, attended some PTO meetings and offered some help as I began to realize how much the PTO does for the school. I am truly impressed and whereever I can help, I will. I really love this school and we are going to do whatever it takes to remain in this area so my daughter can finish her schooling out here. I will definitely miss her first grade teacher, who really had a wonderful impact on my daughter's education and life. My daughter has grown so much and did so well with reading and writing that I was impressed. We now visit our local library regularly and she signs up for events that happen through the library as well. The fact that I can see change is wonderful. It never ceases to amaze me how much these kids learn and how they just soak everything up.

Come Fall she will be in the second grade, and I will be hoping to have a full-time job, so there will be a transition for both of us, but it'll be a positive transition. Right now I am trying to find part-time temporary work during the summer to make a couple of extra bucks for my teeth problems and for summer spending.

I just hope she'll continue to have a love for learning and go onto college someday. I will do whatever it takes to help pay for her to further her education, even if that means working two jobs.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Mom, when can we eat dinner?"

I'm guilty of allowing my daughter to play outside til 8pm. It's light outside til about 9-9:30pm and the neighborhood kids all get together to play and ride bikes. Lately, I have been slacking as I've been outside enjoying it with my daughter and chatting it up with my neighbors. Then I look at the clock on my cell phone and say, Oh boy, it's almost 8pm and I haven't started dinner yet. So I grab the kid, get her into the bath, and attempt to make something rather fast for dinner. Who doesn't do this? I just feel guilty over it because I end up not making what I wanted to make.

Because of this I decided to come up with a plan of attack for the summer and I'm hoping I can stick to it.

-Wake up (no later than 9am)
-Eat breakfast with daughter
-Misc "me" time (usually means making the bajillion phone calls I need to make or grabbing a moment to do whatever- be it blogging or email/internet)
-Eat lunch with daughter
-Send daughter outside to play while I begin clean up (regular chores)
-Chop up veggies, preassemble dinner if possible and stick in fridge, covered
-Go outside and enjoy the rest of the day

See, if I can hold to a schedule like that, and have my dinner ready to bake or whatever, then life should be good. If I plan on making a meal in the crockpot I can always start it after we have lunch or before.

I am hoping to keep this kind of schedule not just for dinner's sake, but to be more diligent about exercise and keeping a routine, which I suck at.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cookie Ice Cream Cake

I wanted to do something special for my husband for Father's Day to let him know how much both my daughter and I appreciate him. I rented one of the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Dessert books from the local library and thumbed through it and saw this Cookie Ice Cream Cake that looked cool to make and something I knew my husband (Mr. Chocoholic) would love. It looks like a giant Oreo cookie and instead of the creamy filling in the center, is Cookies & Cream ice cream.

I've never made a ganache before and this recipe called for a ganache on the top of of the round cakes, so I went to the store to buy my ingredients (heavy cream and semi-sweet chocolate chips), and could not find anything but heavy whipping cream. I grabbed it anyhow and got home and my daughter and I went to work on her father's Father's Day surprise. The ganache was incredibly easy to make and came out very good (a bit too rich for my tastes but my husband was going to love it!). So we put that off to the side along with the two round cakes we had already made, and when the ganache thickened, we poured it on the tops of the round cakes and smoothed it out. We also had put together our ice cream center by this time, which was very easy to do. Initially going into this recipe I thought it was going to be very hard, but it was actually quite easy. We let the ganache set overnight and in the morning my daughter and I drew little lines around the edge of the cake and four tiny squares in a pattern on the cake top. I wrote "Oreo" for good measure. We put the cake together and served it to my husband early on Saturday night and he LOVED it. So much that it was gone by Monday!

Frozen Chocolate Cookie Cake

Ganache and Filling:
1/2 gallon cookies and cream ice cream, softened
1 cup heavy cream
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate morsels

Butter, for pans
Flour, for pans
1 (18.25-ounce) box devil's food cake mix
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Line 1 (9-inch) cake pan with plastic wrap, with 3 inches overhanging. Spread softened ice cream into lined pan in a smooth, even layer. Freeze for 3 hours, or until frozen solid.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour 2 (10-inch) round cake pans and set aside. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat cake mix, water, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until well blended. Using a spatula, divide batter between the 2 prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each pan to loosen cakes and remove from pans.

While cakes are cooling, heat heavy cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until bubbling around the edges. Remove pan from heat, add chocolate morsels, and stir with a whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until cool and slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Spread ganache on top of and around sides of both cake layers, keeping layers separate and not fitting together yet. Refrigerate entire cake for 1 hour, or until ganache is set.

Place 1 cake layer, ganache side up, on a serving platter. Remove ice cream from pan, peel off plastic wrap, and place on top of cake layer. Place second cake layer on top of ice cream, ganache side up. Freeze until ready to serve, but let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before serving.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

NFB: Is it mean that I totally laughed at this picture?

I can't help it! It's cute and hilarious at the same time! Poor puppy!

On another note, I want to take this time to pimp out two things I made for this blog as well as a new Blogroll I just joined. The Leftover Queen has made a Foodie Blogroll and I just joined it. There are wonderful foodie blogs on there that you can read. I can't wait to find other foodie bloggers!

Also, it may go unnoticed because it's buried in my side links bar, but if you have a Myspace account and are a foodie blogger, you can now add my Pie Is the New Toast Myspace to your friends list! I have also created a Foodie Bloggers Group on Myspace as well! Hope to see you around!

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

MeMe time

I've been tagged by Jac at Effervescent Life!

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I was graduating from high school and getting ready to enjoy the summer before going on to UC Santa Barbara.

What were you doing 1 year ago?

We just moved into this place and my daughter was graduating from Kindergarten. Gosh I can't believe it's been a year!

Five snacks you enjoy:
1. Fresh Fruit (Strawberries, Cantaloupe, apples, bananas, kiwi, grapes)

2. Cheddar cubes and ham

3. Walnuts or pecans in their shell (hey cracking them open is half the fun!)

4. For the sweet tooth, something cakey or cookie like. Maybe Lemon Bars!

5. Iced coffee. YUM.

Five songs that you know all the lyrics:

1. My Humps by Black Eyed Peas (yes, it is sad)

2. Back That Thang Up by Juvenile (another bad one)

3. Can We Still Be Friends by Todd Rundgren

4. How Soon is Now? by The Smiths

5. Landslide by Dixie Chicks or Stevie Nicks

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

In order!

1. Pay off all debt we have (mostly school loans)

2. Buy a home up here and one in Monterey, California.

3. Invest, invest, invest.

4. Go on a month long vacation and take various friends/family members.

5. Lastly, start a trust fund for my daughter, retirement fund for us, and donate to local charities, such as Old Dog Haven, and the local food bank.

Five bad habits:

1. Being cynical about love.

2. Social smoking!

3. Worrying or stressing out easily.

4. Being obsessive complusive about certain things (like where things go, etc).

5. Lacking spontaniety in life!

Five things you like doing:

1. Singing and listening to music.

2. Reading.

3. Swimming.

4. Visiting my family and old friends.

5. Baking.

Five things you would never wear again:

1. High Heels.

2. Scrunchies! Ick.

3. Vests or anything resembling a vest.

4. Anything low cut or revealing.

5. Tight pants.

Five favorite toys:

1. My handmixer.

2. My computer.

3. My FauxPOD! (LOL!!!)

4. My brush set for my mineral makeup (love it!).

5. My stereo in my truck.

I’m gonna tag:

1. Lemony Lemons

2. Over the Rainbow

3. Stupid Grin

4. Fisherman's Blues

5. Thoughts of a Titan


Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy Anniversary

It's been a year (since yesterday) that I started this blog. There are other blogs who have also recently (within the last 6 months) celebrated a year since they begun their blogging journey and I wanted to congratulate them as well:

Jumbo Empanadas
Vanilla Garlic
C is For Cooking
Everything Rachael Ray

If I have missed anyone, my apologies! Here's to another great year of blogging!


Thursday, June 14, 2007

That is what I am talking about

Pineapple Banana Bread. Siuan of Not Just Cheesecake said it came from an issue of Home Cooking. All I can say is, heaven. Pure heaven. Not too sweet but just right. Overripe bananas and the pineapple bits give this weird texture of sweet and sour at the same time. It was wonderful as a breakfast bread, a dessert bread, and even as a small snack in the mid-afternoon. Thank you so much, Siuan! Mine came out to 2 loaves but I really piled the dough mixture into my loaf pans, so three is definitely more like it.


1 cup butter, softened
2 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs
1 tbs. vanilla
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 (20oz) can crushed pineapple
4 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 3 (8 x 5 x 3 inch)large loaf pans.
In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar and honey; beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in banana and pineapple. Stir in flour, walnuts, cinnamon , baking soda and salt until moistened. Pour into prepared loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cook 10 minutes. Remove from psn. Makes 3 loaves.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I'm back

My sister is on her way home to California. It flies by too quickly. I will see her again in two months, which I am sure will be here faster than anything else.

I will write more later, but just wanted to drop in to say hello to everyone.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I bid you adieu for the next few days

My sister is flying in tonight so I will be busy spending time with her. When I do come back, I promise a recipe review of Siuan's of Not Just Cheesecake Pineapple Banana Bread. Who am I kidding? That stuff was awesome!

I'd also like to say we passed a milestone on this blog, in just under one year, I have well over 10,000 hits on sitemeter (not including from my own unique IP). Thank you all for visiting and reading my blog!

So I wish you all a wonderful weekend and will see you around sometime next week!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Help feed hungry families

Hunger Awareness Day was yesterday, but you still can click on a link on this page to help feed families in need.

One out of ten Americans face hunger on a daily basis. If you have been there, you know what that can do to a person. Helping by advocating for those in need or even just sharing the above link can make a difference. Each click provides $1 to provide 4 bags of food for hungry families by Con-Agra.

Thank you for reading and please help join the campaign to stop hunger.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

NFB: Dentists don't scare me

I've decided to try to find a part-time job during the summer before my trip to California, mainly because today I found out that I have the beginnings of gum/Periodontal Disease and while it's nothing compared to the costs of getting my husband's mouth fixed, it is going to definitely put a crimp in our wallet. I don't want my husband to have to foot the bill, so I decided to start looking for a job. I'm considering doing some baby-sitting over the summer to trying to find a weekend job.

Ahh you have to love genetics. My father's side deals with it, my dad has plenty of issues and had to have a bridge put in. Luckily I am not at that point. It was caught early enough that we can prevent it with some work. My dental insurance is good enough and will pay a good amount for the work done, which is great, but at the same time, it's still going to cost a pretty penny. What it boils down to was the lack of preventative care in the past, and now I have to try to avoid it from getting any worse.

It's funny, but I have never feared the dentist. Even with the scraping instruments and all, I am never scared of them. This is coming from a woman who couldn't wait for labor and delivery of her own child! (Yes, I realize I am bizarre.) I don't know how or why, I guess maybe I just figure it's a part of life and there's nothing to fear but fear itself. (Yeah, right!)

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Buying and investing in local food markets

Today in the Bellingham Herald's paper was an article about shareholding and investing in local farms, and at the same time being able to get delivery of these fresh foods. I thought about it and how I don't necessarily like to go shopping for produce on a weekly basis. If I could save myself the hassle and have it directly delivered to me, while helping a local farm, I am all for it. Of course, I must speak to my husband about it, but I think this is a worthy investment and cause.

We live in a farming area and as much as possible we prefer to buy local, local dairy and we have been supplementing our meat in our diet with meat from a local meat company, Sundance Beef Company, which is competitive in prices and often has wonderful deals. During the summer we stop off at the various fruit and vegetable stands all over the county and enjoy fresh produce.

The idea of helping a farm grow and helping by investing in that farm is something I am very interested in. With the scare of e.coli and other contaminants, I would prefer to know where my food is coming from and prefer it to come from a local source. Then again, I was born in the "Salad Bowl" of the world- Salinas, California, and we used to live in northern Salinas by the strawberry fields, so I can appreciate agriculture and perhaps start helping. I may not be a farming type of person (I have the world's blackest thumb), but if investing in farms can help, perhaps that is something we can do as a family.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Product rave

It's truly a simple product that I am sure most everyone has- a meat thermometer. Ever since I bought it for the turkey for last year's Thanksgiving, I have been using that baby for everything. Last night I made a beef roast in the oven and used the thermometer and I will tell you, I honestly had no idea how long I was supposed to cook it for, so I set my timer for 45 minutes, checked the thermometer after that and it was not quite done yet, so set it for another 30 minutes and lo and behold- I ended up with a perfect roast. Medium well.

Next time a friend calls me for advice on how to cook a London Broil or a roast of any kind, I will tell them to buy a meat thermometer. It's the best way to gauge when meat is done.

Also that thermometer is awesome when it comes to roasting chickens.