Been Feeling a Bit Blue…

…so of course I need some music. All of these songs make me happy, although maybe not dancing-round-the-house happy.  But better. I’m sure they will help with my blues. Now I just have to remember to play them.

The Good and the Bad by The New F-O’s (This was the background music at the party in the TV show Wilfred, episode 11, “Isolation.”  I’ve been puzzling over what F-O means.  Don’t know–perhaps I’m naive.)

The Golden Age by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour  (heard this on a recent Heineken commercial)

Till IGet There by Lupe Fiasco (from the album Lasers)

My Foolish Heart by Jazmine Sullivan  (now, of all places, I heard this in Ross.  You know, Ross Dress for Less?  One never knows where one might hear good music, does one?)

All Night High by Lisa Shaw

Solitude Charmante by Cafe Americaine

Good Night Good Morning by Beth Ditto (There are terrible National Enquirer pictures of who looks, uh, not so good in a bikini, and this name always comes up.  Never knew who she was until I came across this song, which is really good. And not that I read the Enquirer. Well, not very often.)

Season’s Trees by Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi  (This is from an album called Rome, which was made as an homage to Italian movies of the ’60s. Really good.)

Antenna by Zion I

Out Go the Lights by Spoon  (I’m always surprised Spoon doesn’t get more play.  They are one of my favorite bands, ever.)

Use What You Have Cooking

My well-stocked but somewhat untidy pantry (with art)

Well first of all, you have to keep your pantry and freezer pretty well stocked.  When the cash flow is, uh, flowing  and I see skirt steak on sale, I buy a couple extra ones to freeze.  Favorite wine on a really good sale?  Several bottles now live in my fridge.  See a good price on the 28 oz. cans of pureed or whole peeled tomatoes?  Toss them in the shopping cart.  Prewashed spinach in the giant plastic box for less than $3?  I’m on it.   When I was feeling flush and bought lots of boneless/skinless chicken?  It’s what’s for dinner.  There is pesto I made when basil was cheap, and zucchini bread I made for the same reason.  I’ve got enchilada sauce frozen, as well as refried beans I made.  You see, the austerity measures at our house have reached sort of epic proportions, so I am trying to buy as little food as possible.  After all, I’ve gone to the trouble to stock my pantry and freezer.  Isn’t this exactly when I should be trotting out all that food?

Of course I’m still going to buy milk and fresh fruits and vegetables.  But I’m buying cheese, milk, and half-and-half at Costco (where it’s so cheap that I prefer not to think about the aspects of factory farming that are no doubt in practice), and I’m looking at peaches for 88 cents a pound, not grapes for $2.50 a pound (and prebagged so you can’t just buy a pound; rather, you have to buy the three pound bag so your grapes are now $7.50.  $7.50!!).  But besides the dairy and the plants, it’s whatever is in the freezer and pantry.

This week, my shopping list is pretty small.  Milk, cream, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, beef broth, orange juice, ground beef, ground pork, mushrooms, basil, pine nuts (well, depending on how much they are–otherwise I’ll just toast and chop some slivered almonds), and red onions is about it.  And baby aspirin for the dog (his hips are bad and he loves St. Joseph’s orange chewables).  By taking a little time to go through my cookbooks (which, I must confess, I love doing, so it doesn’t feel like work) and to check on the contents of the freezer and pantry, I have come up with thirteen dinners.  And there is always flour and sugar on hand to make cookies, etc.  So we’re good to go, and I don’t feel too terribly deprived.  Worried, yes, but not deprived.

So what’s on the menu?  Well.  –Now wait.  I thought of giving you all the recipes I use, but first of all that would take forever, and secondly, you can just as easily find a recipe online that works with your supplies.  Okay, back to the menu.  Spinach and mushroom quiche.  Macaroni and cheese (not Kraft or Velveeta–the real kind you make with a roux!). Beef tacos with guacamole, with refries on the side.  Chicken and mushroom crepes (my favorite dinner as a child of the ’80s).  Gyros.   Mandarin beef with bok choy.   Chicken with balsamic vinegar.  Stir-fried pork with garlic.  Lemon chicken.  Meatballs in tomato-herb sauce. Smoked salmon quesadillas (smoked salmon is an unopened package left over from a party–not usually on the menu).  Breakfast burritos (with egg, sausage, cheese, and potatoes they make a great dinner).  And barbecued burgers.  So they don’t suck, foodwise, these austerity measures.  But it only works if you take the time when the money isn’t quite so tight to stock up, and to do some cooking ahead of time.  I could add enchiladas to the week.  Or pasta with pesto.

I heard on the news out of Sacramento the other night that people were talking about how they can’t help it that they eat so much fast food, because it’s so cheap.  That made me mad!  It’s not because it’s cheap (because it isn’t–you only get one meal), it’s because people are lazy!  And while I’m ranting, I’m so mad that they are healthying up McDonald’s Happy Meals.  Fast food should be a treat, once a month or less, not a way of life.  Happy Meals should still have french fries in them and not have to contain carrots or apples or whatever, because french fries are a treat, not something you should be downing a couple times a week!  So by putting in “fresh” fruits and vegetables (and who are we kidding–how long have those apples or carrots been floating around?) we are encouraging eating fast food, as though it is a healthy choice!  No!  It’s a treat.  Do you go get an ice cream sundae with two scoops and sauce and cream and…and…every few days?  No, because it’s a treat.  Be responsible about your family’s well-being!  Oh!  Excuse me.  Got a little carried away.  I digress.

So back to the matter at hand.  If your family struggles with money, it’s important that when you do have cash, you need to stock up on the food (and not stock up on cute shoes) so that you don’t get caught in the fast food trap.  Of course it’s good for you physically, but it’s just so good for you psychically, too.  There are a lot of things you can’t control, but you can control what you eat. It’s a good feeling to know that you are doing right by your family.  And now, sadly, I have to get back to looking for a job.

Great Stuff Made in USA

I feel like I should phrase it “made in the US of A.”  Seems flag wavey-er.  But you know what?  Waving the flag is exactly what we should be doing.  We need to make stuff in this country again or we’re never going to get out of the mess we’re in.  And not just cars.  Everything.  You know, like it used to be?  When you saw “made in Japan” or “made in Taiwan” and you knew the thing was junk?  Not like now, when you have to resign yourself to just about every electronic item there is, and anything made of plastic, being made in China.  This was in the news recently with some reports of Diane Sawyer‘s, but it seems to have faded away again. I have to tell you that I’ve been on a not-made-in-China kick for a long time. About 10 years ago I noticed that just about every non-food item sold in Target was made in China, so I stopped buying those items.  If you limit yourself to only buying things that are not made in China, I guarantee your mindless throw-it-in-the-cart-it’s-cheap way of life will stop.  You’ll save money!  You’ll stop filling your house with worthless crap! Due to the lousy products we have accepted as a way of life, thanks to Wal-Mart, Ikea, and Target, the antique stores of the future will be empty.

C’mon!  Do your part!  If you can buy something made somewhere besides China, do it!  And if you can buy something made in USA (excuse me–the US of A), that’s best of all.  If there is any choice (which sadly with computers, TVs, etc., there doesn’t seem to be), you must choose the item produced domestically.  I wandered around my kitchen for, like, two minutes and found some great products that are well made, reasonably priced, and made HERE.

Lodge cast iron serving kettle; Le Creuset spatulas; Ball collection elite canning jars; Anchor Hocking cracker jar; Swing-a-Way can opener; Edlund stainless steel locking tongs; Cuisipro microplane grater

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