A sign seen in my grocery store this past Sunday.
T-Day this year was at our house and it was just the second time in nearly 20 years we hosted. For many years we traveled to Texas and one year we ended up in Owasso OK. But this year The Texans came north. We had a small gathering of five humans and one Aussie. Shopping for a small dinner crowd like this should have been simple. But as the Great Pandemic continues to affect aspects of our lives we all have not experienced I had to go to multiple stores to find what I needed. The sandwich meat and cheese purchase was left for the last day of shopping the day before T-Day. And as I circled the store searching for bargains I stumbled upon a refrigerated display of fresh turkeys.
Yup. Dried pasta is 50% more expensive per pound. A tub of strawberries was over $6.00 at the same store. Ground beef was seven times the price per pound. So I could not resist. I bought the little fellow.
nOn Sunday I roasted Turkey Two. I decided to cook the bird and freeze portions for future meals. My mind has been wandering to the many ways of making leftover turkey palatable. But it’s not been easy since we are tired of turkey right now. So in no particular order here’s what I learned this year shopping for the feast.
Take Home Lessons
- During The Great Pandemic in the midst of shortages you will find items overbought and undersold in the stores. Take advantage of these situations if and when you find them. I’ve come across similar price reductions in different stores usually in the refrigerated departments. As an example, BOGO imported Danish Havarti with the sell by date out in March 2022. I guess none of my neighbors like Harvarti.
- Be flexible. If you have to have strawberries you’ll pay up for them. But it might be time to eat other fruits that are more reasonably priced. Like bananas, apples, or those tiny oranges. Dried fruits work well too.
- Eat lower on the food chain. I picked up a pound of dried black eyed peas for $1.50 because you have to have black eyed peas for New Years in my part of the world. Eat more beans because they are good for you and good for your checking account balance. Learn to like beans.
- Add more meat-free meals to your diet. Yesterday for lunch I had Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew. Dinner tonight will be a massive mutant baked sweet potato and a side salad. You don’t need meat at every meal. Over the holiday weekend I happened to mention making Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole. The reaction from our guest was priceless. I guess some people don’t like squash.
- A six pound turkey doesn’t have a lot of turkey in it. This little fellow was kind of like a huge chicken only bonier. Still, I think I have enough cooked bird in the freezer for three more entrees.
Yup. Looks large but not a lot of meat.
Beyond the novelty, insects can offer heart-healthy nutrition, too. A January 2021 study in Critical Reviews in Food Science Nutrition said edible insects may have “high superior health benefits” due to high levels of vitamin B12, iron, zinc, fiber, essential amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Rao pointed to crickets as a source of protein through their muscle-bound hind legs used for jumping.Eating the right insects can provide nutrition … and might be good for the planet — https://www.heart.org/en/news/2021/10/22/eating-the-right-insects-can-provide-nutrition-and-might-be-good-for-the-planet
The American Heart Association states not all views expressed in American Heart Association News stories reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. But they published this story and it sure looks like an endorsement.
Cricket pancakes anyone?
Coffee bean prices have doubled in the past year and may double again – what’s going on?
September 30, 2021
Author: Jonathan Morris Professor of History, University of Hertfordshire
International Coffee Day feels very different this year. Introduced by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) on October 1 2015 to raise awareness of the product and the challenges faced by producers, the day has usually focused on how low prices paid for unroasted beans barely cover farmers’ costs – let alone support their families.
Not this year, though. In the past 12 months, the C price – the benchmark price for commodity-grade Arabica coffee on the New York International Commodity Exchange – has risen from US$1.07 (£0.80) per pound (454g) to around US$1.95. Back in July, it touched US$2.08.
Nearly all contracts for coffee delivery are benchmarked against the C price, with the result that prices for green Arabica (unroasted beans) have risen by over 80% during the past year. Those for Robusta coffee – a cheaper, less palatable alternative – have risen over 30%. And there is every chance that these prices will rise higher in the coming months. We may be on the verge of a major price correction that shifts the market upwards for years to come.
Why coffee got expensive
The principal reason for surging prices is a series of environmental events in Brazil. By far the world’s leading coffee producer, Brazil accounts for around 35% of global harvest. The volume of production regularly fluctuates between “on” and “off” years, and usually this is not sufficient to greatly affect prices because producers mitigate their risks through stock management and hedging prices using the coffee futures market.
However, yields in 2021 are likely to be dramatically lower. This is due to a combination of a severe drought earlier in the season, which reduced the numbers of coffee cherries, and recent intense frosts that might further damage the fruit and even the trees. The Brazilian authorities are projecting the lowest Arabica harvest for 12 years.
The history of coffee has been characterised by extreme price volatility. Periods of excessive supplies have progressively driven down prices until a catastrophic event – either environmental or political – results in a correction.
During the 1930s, a combination of bumper harvests and weak consumer demand in the depression era led to a massive supply glut. To reduce excess stock, Brazil resorted to dumping coffee at sea and also converting it into locomotive fuel. At the other extreme, many coffee trees were killed in 1975 when Brazil was struck by a series of “black” frosts. This led to a 60% fall in output in the following harvest, and prices trebling between 1975 and 1977.
In 1962, the ICO introduced producer quotas to try and keep prices buoyant in the face of such highs and lows. This was supported by the United States to avoid communism spreading from Cuba to mainland Latin America, but it was abandoned on American insistence after 1989. This led to an over-supply and ultimately a coffee crisis at the end of the century in which the C price remained under US$1.00 for four straight years. It had tended to trade between about US$1.00 and US$2.00 per pound, and the price crash saw many producers going hungry.
The price only recovered when a coffee leaf rust infected a significant portion of Central American and Colombian production. The bitter irony of the coffee market is that prices for producers only improve when many of them suffer unsustainable losses.
The Robusta problem
Coffee prices fell in the latter part of the 2010s primarily as a result of the expansion of global production. Most notable was Vietnam, which is now the world’s second largest coffee producer and accounts for around 18% of total global production. As much as 95% of Vietnamese output is Robusta.
Robusta was actually first used for coffee cultivation because of an environmental catastrophe, when east Asia’s coffee production was virtually wiped out by coffee leaf rust during the late 19th century. In more recent times, procedures for “cleaning” Robusta to reduce off-flavours have improved to the point that roasters increasingly resort to raising its proportion within a blend. This is particularly done when targeting markets which are primarily driven by price, such as instant coffee.
If prices keep spiking now, using more Robusta in blends could prevent coffee from becoming too expensive for consumers. But this will be difficult to do, at least short-term, because of severe COVID restrictions in Vietnam. This has caused considerable disruptions both to transporting coffee from the central highlands to the export hub of Ho Chi Minh city, and then managing the onward shipping logistics. The same issues have arisen in many coffee-producing nations.
Consequently we have brokers battling to secure sufficient stocks, roasters contemplating how to pass on price rises to their business customers, and consumers facing the prospect of paying higher prices for household coffee products.
But will producers be the winners in this latest price surge? Those Brazilian agribusinesses that survive the immediate impact of the frosts surely will, as too the well-capitalised, medium-sized farms of Latin America.
What, though, of the smallholders and subsistence farmers who make up 95% of coffee farmers? For years, the ICO and its member states have presented these farmers as the victims of global market forces; now we will find out if these players are capable of delivering back to farmers the increased value their coffee is generating. If so, then International Coffee Day will indeed be something to celebrate.
With food inflation absolutely skyrocketing I decided to write a post about finding bargains. Yes, bargains in the grocery store. A little while ago I boasted about finding a dozen eggs for $0.89 and wrote Egg Salad (because you will be eating more eggs). Well eggs in my part of the world are no longer this cheap but you’ll never guess what I found at the store yesterday.
Even though The Boss is not a dark meat chicken person at this price she will be eating dark meat chicken for dinner. Besides, The Boss really likes Chicken Thighs with Spinach which I’ve made several times since discovering the how to video online. I just need to figure out some decent recipes for preparing drums.
The increasing domestic demand for thighs is incentivizing producers to keep chicken legs, which have historically been heavily exported overseas, in the US market. But since every bird has one drumstick for every thigh, it leaves more drumsticks in the market, often at bargain-basement prices.Big Chicken’s Drumstick Dilemma — https://tastecooking.com/chicken-drumstick-dilemma-dark-meat-thigh/
My big old roasting pan came in handy. Cover the bottom with foil for easier clean up. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Artfully place the drums in the pan, coat with some olive oil, and add some herbs and spices. I used salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and thyme. Bake for 45-50 minutes flipping over once about halfway through. After removing from the oven let the drums sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
The picture represents about half of the drums. The other half got served with squash and rice on the side. There’s plenty of leftover chicken to top a green salad, make chicken salad, quesadillas, tacos, Ampaipitakwong Fried Rice (aka Pete’s) or just about any other dish that has cooked chicken in it. Like my One Rotisserie Chicken series except you get to cook the chicken.
I picked up two packages of drums. Not bad for two bucks.
I just bought a dozen large eggs for $0.89. This is an inexpensive sandwich filling!
First boil some eggs. Add the eggs to a saucepan and fill with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let the eggs bathe for 12 minutes. When time’s up carefully drain the eggs and add cold water to the pan. Drain again then add cold water and lots of ice to the pan with the eggs. This shock treatment will allow for easier to peel hard boiled eggs in about 15 minutes. ( I used to hate peeling hard boiled eggs until I learned this technique);
4 large eggs
2-3 T mayonnaise
1/4 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 stalk celery diced
1 dill pickle spear diced
couple of dashes of onion powder and garlic powder
salt and black pepper to taste
Peel the eggs. Slice in half lengthwise and pop out the yolks. Place the yolks in a medium sized bowl and smash with a fork. Dice the egg whites and add to the bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust your seasonings. Four eggs will make enough egg salad for 2-3 hefty sandwiches. If you need more egg salad double the recipe.
Odds and Ends
Use just enough mayonnaise to hold the egg salad together. You want to taste the ingredients and not just the mayo.
Some folks will use fresh onion and garlic. I feel using fresh adds harshness and a certain pungency to the salad and prefer to use garlic and onion powders or granules. Diced carrots work well instead of celery. I’ve never tried using both carrots and celery but if you are a daredevil, be my guest. A couple of slices of crumbled bacon adds another depth of flavor if you like bacon.
Dill, no. Mustard, also no.
Many thanks to Ol Red Hair for nudging me to write this recipe down. This recipe holds a dear place in my heart because during the first year of the pandemic I ate more egg salad than I have eaten in my entire life. I also lost 25 pounds during the first year of the pandemic and some of the credit has to go to this egg salad recipe. It fills you up and as a result I snacked a whole lot less. When I told this story to my doctor she just looked at me and said,
“I can’t wait to see your blood work.”
“I’m eating more eggs to train my liver to produce less cholesterol.”
She smiled at me as if she wasn’t quite sure whether I was joking or being serious.
CHOLESTEROL 175 mg/dL
TRIGLYCERIDE 69 mg/dL
HDL 65 mg/dL
LDL CALCULATED 96 mg/dL
NON-HDL CHOLESTEROL 110 mg/dL
I was serious.
Writing has been difficult the past several weeks. Got no Mojo. Sometimes you just have to put your butt in the chair and start. And this morning I’m putting my butt in my chair and writing. My future best seller though is on the shelf for now. I’m writing but the book is just too much effort for what I hope will be a relaxing Saturday. So to write while keeping it light this month’s random thoughts are about my pantry.
Entering year two of the pandemic the pantry is pretty well stocked. A prepper wouldn’t agree with this statement but I’m not preparing for the end of the world. I just want to be prepared for the coming supply chain shortages. Remember last year when no one knew what the hell was happening and panic drove some to buy rooms full of toilet paper? Well the year ahead will be interesting and different from the beginning stages and perhaps more challenging.
I was at the grocery store and ground turkey is always on my list. A couple of trips ago the store had no ground turkey. Nada. Nothing. Zero. So I was quite pleased to see the store restocked with plenty of ground turkey. I was not pleased to discover a nearly 50% increase in the price. Your frugal writer didn’t buy any. Ground turkey is merely an example. Who knows what will or won’t be available? The reality is whatever you want to buy will cost you more. Hello inflation.
Labor shortages, supply constraints, high freight costs and increasing commodity prices all combine to create higher prices for you and me. I read somewhere that some of the biggest retailers and distributors are fining their suppliers for late or incomplete orders which will add more to the cost for us. Bizarre business strategy if you ask me but it’s happening. Prices inevitably will go up.
So under the assumption your pantry is decently stocked here’s what I would do moving forward.
Buy more of what you need when it’s on sale. Memorial Day is coming up which means a lot of picnic and cookout items will be on sale. Stock up.
Use food storage containers. We bought more yesterday. Keep any tiny creepy crawlers out of your stash.
Be willing to substitute when prices demand substitution. No ground turkey for me at $6.29 a pound. Instead I bought boneless chicken breast for $6.49 a pound on sale, regularly $8.49 a pound (yes it was a higher quality chicken and I wasn’t at Whole Paycheck Food Market).
Drink good Scotch.
Hope you like my list.
Spice Blend for Veggie Burritos
2 tsp chili powder – 1 tsp cumin – 1 tsp smoked paprika – 1/2 tsp coriander 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp garlic powderChickpea and Broccoli Burrito — https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/roasted-chickpea-and-broccoli-burrito
This blend of spices is literally stolen from the chefs at https://www.badmanners.com/. The last time I took a theme on a spice blend the author tracked me down and threatened something close to legal action if I didn’t give her credit and a link to her website. So this time around I’m giving credit AND three links. I’m also not going to write down any instructions for making a roasted vegetable and chickpea filling for burritos. I suggest you go to the original recipe at https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/roasted-chickpea-and-broccoli-burrito if you need detailed instructions.
My Tips, Hints, and not too Secret Secrets
A really good tortilla makes all the difference. But today I’m going to wrap this filling in a Greek style whole wheat pita for lunch. I tend to roast vegetables for at least 40 minutes with a good stir midway through to prevent sticking. You can also add more olive oil at this point too. I hope I have a lime in the fridge. The last time I made this filling The Boss used it as a topping for a Taco Salad. She liked it. I hope she was telling the truth because when you cook up a pound of dried chickpeas it is a LOT of chickpeas. One cup dried will produce between 6 and 7 cups of beans. I used about 4 cups for today’s mix. The other 3 cups went into a Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew.
I used some metal pie pans as roasting pans because I didn’t want to use the big pan which is a pain in the ass to clean because of its size. Preheat your pan(s) before roasting. I leave the mixing bowl uncleaned and use it again once the veggies are roasted and done. Let the mixture cool for a bit, toss everything back into this bowl, mix well again to capture the spices that have stuck to the bowl and then adjust your seasonings.
No lime. I used lemon instead.
I wasn’t kidding about using pie pans.
The Digital Devil told me I had dipped below 173 and I’m resisting the urge to overthink this. I can’t explain this bizarre behavior. It’s just part of my makeup, a tiny piece of me that tends to repeat over and over and over again. If the number goes up I’ll try to figure out why. If the number goes down my mind does the same thing. Why? Why is my weight going down? Is this merely a random fluctuation or can I pinpoint a reason for my successful weight loss/maintenance? As I wandered the internet I found a website post that had the answer I had been searching for.
Soup. I’ve eating more soup.
Laura Wright is a vegan cookbook author and blogger based in the Niagara region of southern Ontario, Canada. Her most recent post is 25 Vegan Soup Recipes and can be accessed at https://thefirstmess.com/. To be clear I haven’t tried any of these recipes yet but I needed a reminder to do so. Thus this post and link.
It’s like a giant Sticky Note that says “Hey, try these recipes. Also don’t forget you already bought her cookbook and it’s sitting on your eCookbook shelf.”
I actually forgot I bought Laura’s cookbook.
The TOMC (The Old Man Car) era has ended. Our relationship started January 2007. I bought TOMC after going car-less for a few months. I lost my executive level job and the company car that went with the position. The company car was a brand new Ford Taurus. We were browsing at the local Carmax when the salesman said to me,
“Hey, we just got one (Taurus) in. You want to take a look at it?”
When we got to the car on the lot I looked at the price and said,
“I’ll take it.”
“Don’t you want to test drive it?”
Today was an emotional day. It was hard saying goodbye to a faithful friend after 14 fabulous years. But by tomorrow I think I’ll be just fine.