Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archives for Appetizers


5/25/10 | Tea Eggs


[ Currently Eating: Dharmalars ]

Tea Eggs - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I am an egg paranoiac.

I admit it. Yes, you may have seen one of those obsessive-compulsive, sweatpants-clad egg fondlers at the market just a few weeks ago.

That was ME fondling your eggs Mr. Stater Brother.

I open up a box of eggs and then set them up on the shelf to check and see if they’ve slipped any fake candy eggs in the box. These things happen sometimes at the egg factory, especially around Easter time.

I smell the eggs for any hints of radioactivity. I rub them for good luck. Then I place them, lengthwise between the 2nd back molars on the right side of my mouth and tilt my head toward the light to see if any pictures of Spock are transmitted into my brain. (Walter Bishop told me to do that, you know, just in case. In case of what, I’m not sure…)

Then I roll them across the floor to make sure the yolk distribution is correct.

The trajectory on the floor must inscribe a certain parabolic arc, and if it does not, then I put them back in their container and start all over again with another box. You see, you must never, ever mix up the eggs that come in a box. They are meant to be together and CANNOT be separated.

If they are separated, an immediate high frequency coded signal will begin to be transmitted from a hidden circuitboard embedded at the base of each cardboard box of eggs. This will contact a base station at the factory and immediately alert the chickens to which these eggs belong. The chickens will then start to run around clucking as if their heads were cut off.

The factory manager, noting the obvious egg space-time continuum disturbance, will then send out sleek Lincoln towncars filled with men in black to the supermarket where the signal has come from.

They will be instructed to apprehend any bad eggs.

LOL.

The above scenario, while not exactly true, is not exactly false. I do check my eggs before buying, because I’ve gotten some cracked ones before. It’s good idea to at least open the box, hidden microchip circuitboard or not.

Recently, we came into an overabundance of eggs due to the perfect storm of an egg fire sale at the market and a shopping list gone awry. I was just going to boil ‘em up and make an enormous egg salad sandwich the size of an alligator. But then I decided to try out a recipe for a type of egg that I’ve never made before. These are tea eggs.

I’ve been a tea egger (a consumer of tea eggs) for awhile now.

No, not a tea bagger. A tea EGGER.

These tea eggs are pretty much just boiled eggs that have been infused with various spices. While most recipes I’ve seen call for particular separate spices, I think there’s actually a packet of stuff that you can buy at specialty markets to make tea eggs – something similar to a “five spice” taste. I decided to make it from scratch because we happened to have the star anise and the cinnamon in the pantry.

Tea Eggs - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

One of the coolest thing about the tea eggs is the spiderweb lines that appear on the surface. This comes about because you crack the eggs lightly after boiling and then put them into a liquid mixture. The area where the cracks are gets darker, resulting in the lines.

This can be really cool if you take a few eggs to lunch and tell your unsuspecting (soon to be ex) friends “Did I ever tell you about the alien chicken at home that lays eggs? Here’s proof…”

Guys: This is also a great conversation piece at bars. You accost a pretty girl, whip one of these bad boys out, and say “Hey baby – let me peel my egg for you.” You can also follow this with: “Now imagine what the rest of me looks like!”

Well, without further ado, and with much trepidation, here is a recipe of sorts:

Tea Eggs

6 eggs — $1.00
2 tbsp loose tea (or 2 tea bags) — $0.25
1/2 cup soy sauce — $0.50
2 tsp sugar — $0.05
3-4 star anise pods — $0.25
1 cinnamon stick — $0.10
1 tsp pepper — negligible
optional salt — negligible

Total: $2.15

You get a pot. You fill it with water. Then you lay your eggs. (Dang. I’ve been trying to use a nice pun about laying eggs in this post, but it just never worked its way in.)

Boil the summabitch. Well, get it up to boil anyhow. Then turn the heat off, and put the lid on. Let it sit for 12-15 min. I don’t know if this is really necessary for this recipe, but this is how we usually make nice boiled eggs that don’t have a powdery center. Thanks Martha Farking Stewart…

Take the eggs out with a spoon or whatever, and put ‘em in a bowl. Run cold water on it if you don’t want to burn off your fingerprints. Then lightly crack the eggs. I just cracked them on the sink, but I heard sometimes it’s better if you whack ‘em with a butter knife or heavy spoon. Whatever. You just need to make sure they’re cracked enough so the flavor can enter the eggs.

Put ‘em back in the water in the pot. You can use new water if you want. Add tea, soy sauce, sugar, star anise, cinnamon and pepper. You might need to add some salt. Or, you could just add more soy sauce.

Get the thing up to boil again, then reduce the heat to low and simmer it for 2 hours or more. I think it depends how strong you want the flavor. During the cooking process, you might need to chuck some more water in there. To make sure you don’t end up a dry pot with exploding eggs, and trust me I have done that on occasion while boiling eggs.

When done, let the eggs cool, crack ‘em and eat. You can fridge them for a few days at least too.

Tea Eggs - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

You can increase or decrease the amount of spices to taste. The batch I made for the first time didn’t seem to have enough flavor, so I returned the eggs to the pot and cooked for another hour or so. They tasted better after that. I didn’t add salt, but many recipes I’ve seen call for both soy sauce and salt. You should play around with the proportions.

I still have hesitations about posting these 3 dollar and under recipes. I know they’re a lot of fun for people and very popular, but I sometimes feel like I’ve gotten myself backed into a corner with them. It’s really hard to come up with recipes for $3 or less, because I haven’t adjusted for inflation. Or for people who write in complaining that I don’t know the price of [insert food item].

It’s also harder for keep the comedy going with recipes like this because I feel the need to actually write something of use to people.

In any case, that doesn’t matter because I’m going away.

Yesterday, I went to Fresh & Easy and randomly swapped out 5013 eggs between boxes while the workers weren’t looking.

The men in the Lincoln towncars are coming.

They’re coming to take me away, HO HO HEE HEE HA HA to the funny farm.

Where life is beautiful all the time.

[Editor's Note: If you didn't understand that, then you should probably listen to this song. Also, you are probably why I didn't make the obvious joke about how tasty my "star anise" is in this post. I thought it was too easy, and I don't want to offend all the star anise fans out there.]


[ Currently Eating: Pancakes, Bacon and Eggs! ]

Cheap Eats - Lays Potato ChipsI fell into a junk food mood again a little while ago. I’d actually had these Lays Cheddar and Sour Cream Potato Chips since near the new year, but didn’t have the heart to open them. Well, I think I actually bought two bags of these and ate one right away. So I didn’t have the heart to open TWO of them at once.

This is actually an enormous bag of chips; I could almost climb into it and use it in a potato sack race. Or I could inflate the empty bag and use it as an air pillow while camping. Or I could put some handles on it and use it as a shopping bag at the mall. Not that I’ve been to the mall in 10 years.

Anyhow you get the picture – it’s an oversized bag of chips. In fact you get 20% more chips according to the screaming words on the bag. Which is a good thing for Cheap Eats, I guess because you’re getting more for less. Still, it took a good amount of time to eat the entire bag – I don’t know if I need this much chips unless there’s a party. Not that I’ve been to a party in 10 years.

Potato Chip makers have gotten hit pretty hard with all the negative publicity over how fattening and bad their chips are for you. So it’s no surprise that they’ve tried to reform their image – 0 grams of trans fat, 100% sunflower oil. I guess it’s better than nothing (right, healthy eats peeps?)

They claim that the taste is still the same. I don’t know about that because I don’t have potato chips too often any more. But I rather liked the taste and texture of these chips. They just seemed chunkier and substantial without being overly oily. I think the Lays I used to get were more “feathery” light and lacy in texture, but more oily. My personal preference is thicker potato chips over thinner ones so it suits me fine.

Cheap Eats - Cheddar and Sour Cream Lays

Continue reading “Lays Cheddar Potato Chips” …

5/4/05 | Garlic Bread


[ Currently Eating: Garlic Bread ]

Garlic Bread Picture
Garlic bread is a huge favorite to make. In the past, I’ve had some mixed results with different methods until I stumbled upon a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for garlic bread. That set me straight in several respects, and I can turn out some pretty good ones usually and fairly cheaply as well. The two most important things are oven heat and roasting the garlic first!

Garlic Bread

1/2 loaf french bread (1/2 of $1.19 large loaf) — $0.60
8 medium cloves garlic (about 1 head) — $0.33
Parmesan cheese (1/4 oz of $3.50 8oz can) — $0.11
Butter (2 tbsp of $1.00 4 oz stick) — $0.26
Parsley (1/4 cup chopped from $0.69 bunch) — $0.06
Kosher Salt / pepper — negligible

Total: $1.36

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Yes, that’s right 500 degrees. You need blastingly high heat to make it, otherwise the tops will be soggy.

Mince up parsley and set aside. Cut up the butter in small bowl and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, separate head of garlic into cloves, no need to peel the papery skins off! Toast them in small skillet, shaking pan frequently about 8-10 minutes on low heat, or until small burnt marks appear on outside.

Allow to cool, then peel and mince finely. Add to butter, and add in Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 tsp of pepper and about 1/8 tsp (or less) of kosher salt. (You may not need the salt at all, because Parm cheese is salty). Mix well. You should have a paste, but the butter should still be semi-solid.

Cut bread in half (or, you can use the whole loaf, just double the rest of the ingredients). Now slice the bread down the center so you have a top and bottom half. Spread garlic butter mixture on top of both sides. Place on cookie sheet and bake in oven for 10-12 minutes. Cut the bread crosswise with a sharp knife into finger food sized pieces. Sprinkle parsley on top.


Continue reading “Garlic Bread” …




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