Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for July, 2008

7/29/08 | Won Ton Time

[ Currently Eating: Earthquake Food ]

NOTE: Due to rocking and rolling and other earthquakedness, our regular Cheap Eats coverage will be postponed until such a time as the ground stops shaking. For now, please gaze fondly at this older photo of an enormous shrimp dumpling from the now defunct Won Ton Time on Garfield in Monterey Park.

Regular coverage will resume in a few days, or next week depending on schedule and Laziness Quotient™. Thank you.

Won Ton Time - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

[ Currently Eating: Peanut Butter on Toast ]

Omelette - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I am quite possibly the world’s worst omelette maker.

That distinction is justified, not for the sheer multitudes of rubbery or runny egg disasters that I seem to turn out, but for my refusal to try and learn the correct way to make an omelette. No matter how many promising cooking shows or magazines with “foolproof” tips I come across, I always turn a blind eye to improving my skills. I’m a bad egg, haha.

This is partly because there seem to be about a billion different “EggMasters” who claim they have reached the pinnacle of Omelette Nirvana. Which path is the right one? But it’s mostly because I just like to fool around with my eggs. Oh no, I don’t juggle them in the kitchen like some cooks. Everytime I crack an egg to try once again to make an omelette, I’m thinking “What shall we do this time”: Cook over super high flame for only a few seconds? Cover and cook on low for 3 minutes? Add water or salt to the eggs? Mix in chopped parsley to get green eggs? Butter, olive oil, non-stick pan or cast iron?

With eggs, I like to gamble. It’s all too eggciting to get wrapped up in technique.

Actually, after reading a magazine article about how difficult it was to create an absolutely perfect omelette (the writer actually went to a class taught by a froufrou French instructor) I didn’t feel as bad. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever made two omelettes in a row that turned out even remotely the same. Part of it is laziness to learn, but it’s also the fact that nearly any egg disaster I make has been edible. You can overcook it and it still tastes fine – slather with salsa, ketchup or tabasco and it becomes breakfast. So there’s not much motivation to refine the technique.

Continue reading “How To Make An Omelette” …

[ Currently Eating: A Hot Dog ]

Rice is Nice on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Rice is Nice! Yes, I know I haven’t changed out the Cheap Eats food poll in nearly a year. I just kept putting it off in favor of reviewing things like cans of vienna sausage. You know how it goes.

Rice is Nice on Cheap Eats at BloglanderI guess I wasn’t too surprised that Rice came in first place in our poll on food staples. A full third of respondents (759 voters) picked rice as their favorite food staple. It’s definitely one of the most versatile dry goods to have stocked in the cupboard. We have at least 3 different kinds at all times – it’s usually sticky rice, plain white rice, and then jasmine or some other sort of mix.

What’s sort of funny is all the hub-bub that’s been going on fairly recently (probably before I even put the poll up) with the price on bags of rice skyrocketing. I know at certain stores (Sam’s Club, etc) they were limiting the number of bags per customer for awhile. I never would’ve thought that could happen. When NPR started to devote coverage to the price of rice not being nice (haha), I certainly started to pay attention.

As for the other staples, I was surprised at how high Potatoes came in. I personally love potatoes, but I thought they would come in last. 660 respondents (about 29%) cast their vote for the humble potato. Bread came in third with 470 votes (about 21%) and Beans brought up the rear (hmm.. beans DO tend to make curtain call appearances near my rear) with 374 votes (about 16%).

All of these staples are great for Cheap Eaters. I tend to have nearly all of them around at all times – with the exception of bread because it doesn’t last as long as the others do, especially with how humid it is in the summertime. For beans, I have both canned and dry. Potatoes I nearly always have as fresh – I try to store them in a cool dark place to extend the shelflife.

OK – the new poll is up to the right. This one has to do with clipping those pesky, time-expiring but essential supermarket coupons. To Coupon or not to Coupon – that is the poll question…

[ Currently Eating: Fried Pork Chop Rice ]

Thank You Chicken Noodle Soup - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I have to say that I purchased this can of Chicken Noodle Soup entirely for the title that the review would produce. This product is called “Thank You Chicken Noodle Soup”. I kid you not. The brand is called “Thank You”, though I believe the megacompany behind it is actually Bird’s Eye Foods.

I also got it because I thought I could somehow work a cynical comment to the effect of: “Thank You Chicken Soup? No, thank you.” Man, that’s low hanging fruit – a Cheap Eats reviewer’s work is just too easy. Little did I know how emphatically I would be saying “No Thank You” to this soup!

Even though I knew that this would probably rank on the “lower end scale” of chicken noodle soups, I wasn’t prepared for how cloudy and glutinous the actual soup was. Well, I usually add water to these non-condensed soups anyhow, but I decided to try it without water for the review.

In my opinion, it was absolutely horrible. The broth itself had a strange, dogfood-esque and metallic (no doubt from the can), off-putting yet bland flavor – if that’s even possible. I had to take several slugs of vodka afterwards to remove the taste which lingered around like a bad second date that has no chance of even stealing first base… OK, I’m kidding about the vodka. But I did feel like I had to use some mouthwash afterwards.

Thank You Chicken Noodle Soup - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

The cloudy broth is remarkably similar to the corn-starch thickened soup they serve for “free” at the innumerable Hong Kong style cafes near our house. Except this tasted much, much worse. I don’t think I’ve had soup this bad in awhile.

The noodles are thin rectangles that are sort of like Campbell’s but extra soft. No bite at all to them. The chicken texture was ok, but the taste was really off. It had an extremely bad “iron” taste – I think it’s the same thing with it being from the aluminum can. I actually found myself spitting out the chicken for the first time. The carrots and celery were very soft – great for your toothless Cheap Eater uncle I guess. Not that this isn’t usually what you get in canned soup.

Thank You Chicken Noodle Soup - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

The whole ensemble was very, very bad. I’m not saying that Progresso or Campbell’s soup is light years better, but… wait, yes they ARE light years better if you’re going to pay a similar amount. I mean, they occasionally have these brands at Big Lots for a dollar too. If I’m going to fork over a dollar for canned soup, please let it NOT be the Thank You brand in the future. This is soup chemistry gone horribly bad. I actually couldn’t finish more than a few spoons, and that’s saying a LOT seeing what I’ve scarfed down before. Absolutely sickening – NO thank you. Experimental Jet Set, Trash and NO STAR.

Found At:Big Lots
Cheap Eats Score: 2/10

7/1/08 | Smoked Oysters

[ Currently Eating: Leftover Enchiladas ]

Smoked Oysters on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Heading into the long weekend, I’m going to feed your need for Gross Eats on Cheap Eats. I sincerely hope this doesn’t spoil your appetites for the upcoming BBQ I know you’ll be pigging out at. If you have an aversion to closeups of seafood, please turn away now.

I have to admit I was in a bit of an Andrew Zimmern mood as I waltzed down the aisles at Big Lots the other day. I’d avoided Ocean Prince Smoked Oysters even though I’ve seen them as cheap as 75 cents on occasion. These were marked up to a buck fifteen, but I figured it was high time I faced them down like a man. (Or woman, for those of you who keep thinking I’m a girl.)

Now, I’ve had oysters from cans before and they never look very pretty. In fact, they look downright nasty or even scary. But they’ve tasted pretty good and I usually fry ‘em up anyhow so they don’t look as bad. But I’ve never had smoked oysters before and I’ve always wondered how they differed in taste.

I took the liberty of cutting off the post here, so if you don’t wish to look at gross oyster pictures you can go ahead start the July 4 weekend. But for those with stomachs of steel, read on…

Continue reading “Smoked Oysters” …



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