Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for January, 2009

[ Currently Eating: Theraflu ]

DP - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I’m sorry folks, still under the weather over here. So I’m just going to post more free food stuff found around the web. I caught this one over on Iateapie – thank God I finally figured out how to setup rss feeds in Thunderbird so I don’t have to visit 86 different blogs every day.

Anyhow, it seems like Dr. Pepper didn’t get enough love from giving away free soda with Guns and Roses. So, they’re going to give away 2 million more bottles of free soda. Diet soda, that is. Yuck, count me out. I can’t stand it. But if you’re into it, head on over from now until the end of March. You can get either a free 20 oz or a 2 liter bottle – weird, why the metric choice?

Of course, you have to REGISTER to get the free soda. Yada, yadda, yaddda, give away first born son. And so on.

And now, back to bed for me. See you in the springtime. Potweet.


[ Currently Eating: Jalapeno Cheese Bread ]

King Oscar Sardines - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

It appears I have been assimilated.

… into the Cult of the Sardine, that is. I no longer get up in the morning to eat Frosted Flakes. I start off the day with a big bowl of King Oscar Sardines. Finest Brisling Sardines, I might add. Straight outta the can. If I’m feeling frisky, I chop up some green onion to top it off with. Forget milk, it doesn’t go well with sardines.

(All around the world, cows just cried a tear.)

Around 11 in the morning I start to get the munchies. I used to snack on some Fiddle Faddle or Crunch and Munch, but now I just break open another tin of sardines. Seeya, carbs. I plan to eat half and save the remainder for a midnight snack. I go for the Mediterranean Style King Oscar Sardines this time. Ooh, it has red bell pepper and black olives. It’s like a party in my mouth and Jack (sic) Cousteau is invited. Pass the clam dip, Zissou.

King Oscar Sardines - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I decide to hit the Long Beach Aquarium for lunch. I know what you’re thinking – no trip to the aquarium is complete without a meal of fish and chips (fish sticks = chopped and formed haddock filets from Alaska). I decide to bypass the tradition and sneak in another tin of King Oscar sardines underneath my jacket. Since I’m in a spicy mood, I bring along the Gourmet Chipotle Sauce flavor. I’m surprised that the Chipotle taste actually matches up OK with fish. It goes down really well, especially after a nice swig of bat ray feeding tank water. But I have to hightail it outta there since the guards don’t take kindly to me feeding Chipotle sardines to the jellyfish.

A little kid points at me while I’m running and asks his mom, “Why does the man smell like fish?” A word to the wise: do not run with an empty tin filled with sardine juice. You will spill it all over you.

Later at home, after watching The Blue Planet for the 54th time, I make some dinner plans. Here is the deal. I’m going to have some Balsamic Vinaigrette King Oscar Sardines for a fishy “side salad” and then go with Dijon Mustard King Oscar Sardines for the main course. This is like the most amazing fishfeast I’ve ever had. Tender fishies lovingly dunked in flavorful gravy.

The cat comes by to say hello. I ignore it. Sardines, my Precious, sardines.

King Oscar Sardines - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Finally, to top off another excellent sardine filled day, I make a sardine omelette for dessert using the leftover tin from my morning snack. If you haven’t tried this, you should. You actually pour in the juice from the sardine into the egg mixture. I first saw it on a Japanese TV show where they said that sardine juice from a can was one of the best “brain foods” you could eat.

I wouldn’t make stuff like this up. Dude.

OK, it is back to Reality. The non-sardine filled variety of Reality. Well, ok, just a few sardines in this Reality. I’ve tried most of the flavors of the King Oscar Sardines sent in for review, and can honestly say these are some of the best I’ve had. I guess it isn’t too hard to top bulk sardines purchased at the Dollar Store. But these were pretty darn good – tender, delicate and for the most part, intact. They have a slightly salty flavor but aren’t as strongly fishy as some of the other ones I’ve had. Just don’t get the oil on your clothes!

They’re from Norway and are the Brisling variety (according to the package they’re smaller and more delicate than the conventional sardines). By the way, there’s an old commercial for them if you would like to watch. There’s also a Sardine Diet, which just goes to show you that I’m not so crazy after all. Woah. I guess I AM crazy.

They have some that are “two layer” and others in “one layer”. As far as quality goes, these pretty much kick ass – for price, I think it’s going to be a bit spendy. You might be able to get a one layer can for around two bucks or less, especially if you buy them by the case. Which is something I’m going to have to consider, seeing as my Reality has been painted sardine-colored lately.

Price: Free
Found At: Sent in for review
Cheap Eats Score: 7/10

[Editor's Note: My new year's resolution was to butcher the English language while cramming as many non sequitur phrases into reviews as possible. I like to make them almost completely unpalatable so that Grandma Jekeriah from Tennessee does not email me thinking I own Banquet Frozen Meals. Look for reviews to get crazier and krazier and querazier as the year goes by. Thank you very much.]

[ Currently Eating: Soft foods ]

One doughnut from Krispy Kreme – available to everyone. Yep. Cashing in on various historical events is great business in case you haven’t noticed. On this day, January 20th, 2009, a rather historic day I think you’ll have to admit no matter what side of the political fence you’re on (Cheap Eats HQ tries not back any political party publicly), you can get one free doughnut of your choice. No purchase is necessary, but how could you not buy more doughnuts. How?

Like I’ve said before, let’s stimulate the economy with doughnuts, baby.

Krispy Kreme thanks you for your support. And I do not work for Krispy Kreme. Get that through the noggin, trolls.

[Editor's Note: You may notice this year an increase in shorter "cheap eats news reporting" posts rather than full reviews. I've decided to try and focus on both for now, though I know that people like the reviews, especially those of the dollar store variety. But I'll need to work out a bit to get in shape for all the canned foods I need to consume. Here's to many sets of 200 sit-ups and 5 mile jogs in the new year...]

[ Currently Eating: Oatsymeal ]

Smart Start - Cheap Eats at BloglanderSome quickie Cheap Eats news: it appears the price of your favorite daily morning Kellogg’s cereal may be going up. I read about it on Iateapie today. While the increase will only be in the single digit percentages, it’s going to affect most of their cereals (exceptions are Special K, All-Bran). Price increases will be across the board for stores apparently.

As the article notes, it’ll be interesting to see what General Mills thinks of the price rise. The reason for the increase is mainly the cost of ingredients. I don’t eat a lot of dry cereal, so I can’t say how much it’ll affect us. But I guess if you have 10 kids and buy boxes and boxes of cereal a week, then you might notice the difference.

Wait, does this include Pop Tarts?

Oh, woe is me.

Source: Yahoo Finance via Tanya from Iateapie

[ Currently Eating: NOT dog food ]

Hartford House BS - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I’m not going to lie to you. I like the word “Kibbles.”

It just rolls off the tongue nicely, like a bottle of Albertsons vodka mixed with OJ (not Simpson). It also rhymes with Tribbles, which is handy in case I’m ever writing a Star Trek limerick. Finally, it goes along nicely with the word “Bits.” This gives you the canine culinary creation: Kibbles ‘n Bits.

What does Hartford House Beef Stew have to do with Kibbles ‘n Bits?

Come on, Eileen. You can do the math yourself…

Truth be told, this can of stew was part of my earthquake food supply kit. But seeing as how the date on the can was getting a little close to the expiration date (really, 1/13/11 is coming up way faster than you think), I thought I’d crack it open and have some stew on a cold, windy day.

Thank god I opened it now, because if I had to eat this after an earthquake, I might throw it up. Now I can go and replace it with something tame like Spam or Vienna Sausages.

Do you know the buttery, fungus paste that grows between your toes if you don’t take a shower for a few days? Oh no, it doesn’t taste anything like that. Not that I would compare it to something like that, on penalty of being banned for life from the Dollar Store by the cabal of food manufacturers that puts out this crud. I smell libel, I smell suit.

No, this was probably not as bad as I’m making it out to be. But after eating luxurious frozen food for a few weeks, it was rather disturbing.

Hartford House BS - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

On the surface, this is your typical canned beef stew with potatoes, carrots, and “meat”. Speaking of “on the surface”, when I first wrestled the can open (note to self: make sure to include high quality can opener in emergency earthquake supply) there was about a 1/4 cup worth of orange blobbity on the top of the can. Oh cool, I thought – some pureed carrots to thicken the stew. Not so fast, Bugs Bunny.

I dunno what it really was – probably a combination of lard, grease, oil, tomato paste and spices. I mean, I see a bit of that inside the top of nearly every can of Chili or soup I open up. But there was just gobs and gobs of that orange stuff, and it was harder than Ronald McDonald’s arteries after ingesting 55 Big Macs.

But you know what they say – if you’re going to play with fire, you might as well stick your whole hand in. Uh, any 10 year old kids, disregard that last sentence. I scooped most of the orange goo back into the can and just heated it up. Once I got it all mixed up, the orange color wasn’t as noticeable. The stew took on the consistency of glue, or maybe some of that Fix-All that we use to fill up holes in the wall. At least it wasn’t gritty like spackle.

Hartford House BS - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I guess the potato pieces were pretty standard, and the carrot pieces, while small and pasty, were at least unremarkable enough that I could eat them. The sauce had a strange flavor, somewhat like buttered popcorn mixed with coagulated blood. I think it has something to do with the “tin can” effect, where you get foods picking up a metallic taste. It was VERY noticeable. I tasted it in the sauce and meat mostly.

Now, that meat – here’s where we get into the Kibbles part. It was like eating dog food. I’m not claiming that Hormel Chili or any of those other cans of stew have superb chunks of meat. But these little beef shmears were like the tiny hairball gems that my cat upchucks every so often. I just could not get past the taste and texture. Maybe if they were larger, or if they stuck some more spices in it to fake out my taste buds. Anything else, please, anything.

Would I eat this if I was starving? Sure. Last I checked, eating bad stew is an excellent alternative to starving. But I think I’m going to have to go back to the dollar store to get something else. Sorry, Hartford House (I seem to have liked your Corned Beef Hash better). It’s probably unfair to compare this to Kibbles ‘n Bits. I don’t even have a dog. But if I did, I think I would trade him his Kibbles for this stew.

Price: $1
Found At: Dollar Store
Cheap Eats Score: 1/10

[ Currently Eating: Sausage Stromboli ]

Stromboli?? - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

And a Happy Stuffed Sausage Bread New Year to you too.

I had a nice little dollar store Cheap Eats post all ready to go today. But that’s gotten preempted (much like all my favorite shows are preempted by stupid American Football nowadays) by some crazy Stromboli action.

I know it’s hard to believe, what with my dumblefingery baking skills, but I actually made a practical approximation of a Sausage Stromboli just an hour ago in the oven. I couldn’t believe it either. I hope this is a harbinger of Cheap Eats Baking to come for 2009.

Stromboli?? - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I know you’re supposed to use a pizza stone for this kind of stuff, but I was able to make one using just a Silpat on top of a cookie baking sheet. I think because the dough was thin, it didn’t matter as much. It didn’t have as crunchy a crust as a real pizza, and the cheese leaked out of the bottom, but the end result was pretty amazing. I did use a broiler tray for steam this time, so maybe that helped the crust. This one had canned tomatoes, jack cheese and cooked Italian sausage in it.

It’s about this point that I need to confess that the recipe for the stromboli comes straight outta Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (abbreviated as AB5MD from now on) which I got for Xmas. I really think they should’ve taken out the word “Artisan” – it tends to scare non-bakers like me away. At first I thought it was some frou-frou book written by a poofy-hatted chef in Limoges. They should’ve just said Amazing Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

I hate to be one of those “book boosters”, but this bread tome is pretty damn good. I started off before this book going down the Jim Lahey No-Knead route (google it, for the NY times article, since the bastards prevent hotlinking). That recipe was the revelation, and this book extended it by letting you keep batches of pre-mixed dough in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Earlier, I’d experimented with making your own yeast – but I’ll save that topic for another day. Plus, it’s a little more inconvenient and requires more time. I just used the standard yeast packets.

I’m only on the basic master recipe in AB5MD which uses water, salt, unbleached white flour and storebought yeast. But it’s been good enough for most everything – however, I was surprised it worked well for the Stromboli because I didn’t have a pizza stone. Also, I’ve been using a combination of the Lahey method and AB5MD method for all the bread. Basically, I said forget the pizza stone and used a non-stick cast iron pot like Lahey recommended. Use the cover for 1/2 the cooking time and you don’t really need to use a steam tray. The bread comes out pretty good, though not perfect. The dough recipe is just an ordinary 6-3-3-13. That’s 6 cups lukewarm water, 3 tbsp yeast, 3 tbsp kosher salt, 13 cups flour. Mix it, cover and let it stand for 2 hours and put it in the fridge. That is all – enough dough for 8 1lb loaves. Halve the recipe if it’s too much to store.

I’ll try get a full recipe up for the stromboli, maybe an AB5MD book review as well, when I get to the other enriched doughs of later chapters. For now, it’s pretty darn good and cheap eats. It’s great to be able to make larger batches in advance instead of just one at a time like the Lahey method I was using.



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