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08 June 2010 @ 09:39 am
Laughing at myself.  
Ha ha - I've been calling myself a coffee snob for years - roasting my own beans, and talking anyone's ear off who will half listen about origin, freshness, grind, and roasting profiles.  But apparently, now I am becoming a food snob, too!  

My whole milk latte is creamy awesome goodness, btw.  And the husband, who downs glasses of milk anywhere from once to several times a day, has proclaimed the 2% "smoother and creamier" than the store bought stuff, although he is unclear on the flavor vs. the flavor without an actual side by side taste test.  Since he headed off to work this morning for a fifteen hour day (graduation tonight), I didn't press him into doing one.  Tomorrow, perhaps.  

So, then I decide I want one of those yogurt/fruit/granola parfaits for breakfast with my new yogurt.  Except I don't have any granola on hand, and running down to the store sounds like a lot of effort before I've had my coffee.  Besides, there's always something a bit stale about it; must be sitting in those huge bulk bins for weeks on end.  

Wait, I think to myself, granola is just oatmeal and nuts with some kind of coating, toasted, right?  I bet I have everything here to make my own!  And I looked up a few recipes, and sure enough - granola is indeed oatmeal, nuts, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla, with optional things like dried fruit added.  I don't have any dried fruit, but I have everything else.

My granola is currently in the oven, toasting.  And given the price of granola from the bulk bins, I admit to a little surprise - this stuff is so darn easy to make, and the stuff in the store is pretty expensive!  I think I will be making my own granola for always from now on.

Because, apparently, I am some kind of natural food freak these days.  *looks around*  How did that happen?  No, no - you don't even know all of it.  Sure, there's the garden, and the beef, and the milk, and now things like homemade granola (but seriously - so easy!  I don't know why I never thought of it before!)  But there's also the microwave popcorn popper I bought at Target I'm going to do a whole post on, because it is made of AWESOME - no more icky coated microwave bag popcorn with weird chemicals on it.  (The no chemicals thing is really a bonus.  For me, I went looking for an alternative because I have NEVER been happy with the taste and texture of microwave bagged popcorn.)

What the heck.  I guess I'm doing a post now.  Old air poppers, while producing excellent popcorn, are loud, and kind of a pain to haul out of the cupboard and set up, and messy - you can't always control where the kernels go.  Stovetop popping is, for me, problematic.  But either is a better alternative to fake "butter" flavoring or dry cardboard flavor.  So, I went looking for an air popper.  Surely, they still sell them.  But Target only had the stirring kind, which worked great as the basis for my coffee roasting set up, but is bulky and would be hard for me to store in my cupboards.  

And then, I stumbled across the Nordic Ware Microwave Popper.  Target had it for $8.  What the heck, I thought.  For $8, it was worth the try.  I LOVE IT.  I am buying one for my sister, my Mom, my friends (Paula, if you are reading this, don't go buy one! I may *cough* already have one being sent to you.)

1/3 - 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, and microwave it for 2-3 minutes.  I've heard there's a learning curve for getting the time right, but my microwave popcorn button has always been super accurate, and that seems to be true this time as well.  People also complain that the bowl is super hot right after you take it out.  Um, duh!  I just dump mine in a fresh bowl.  You can pop with or without oil.  I do without, and then dump butter and salt on afterward.  It's just as easy as those bags, but so much better!

Delicious, old fashioned popcorn, convenient, chemical free, and did you know there are all kinds of fancy kernels you can buy with names like "Black Jewel" and "Red Sunset" that apparently have less hulls than the standard kernels?  I ordered some, of course.  I also found a recipe for making your own caramel corn, which I plan to do for my father-in-law, who loves caramel corn.  He deserves something nice after building me my garden boxes. :D
Current Mood: awakeawake
KayJayUU: morning coffeekayjayuu on June 8th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
How was the milk texture in your latte? Did you notice any difference, or did you have to do anything differently?

Also, I'm in a make-your-own phase foodwise out of necessity, since I'm poor atm. It's awesome, I'm learning so much about cooking after all these years!
rhienellethrhienelleth on June 8th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
Yep, it froths to a silkier texture than store bought milk - frothing time seemed about the same, but it also seemed easier to get those tiny microfoam bubbles frothing aficionados look for.

Definitely creamier, but also realize I used whole milk, vs. my usual 2%, so that is likely a factor. But smoother texture, and very yummy.

So, you definitely notice a difference in cost? I mean, I've always been something of a make-your-own - my family is very...well let's just say, my mother-the-chef was appalled that I spent actual money on a bread machine. "Your mixer can do the very same thing!" Which is likely true, but it doesn't have the cycles preprogrammed in, so...anyway, they're very make-it-yourself, and therefore, so am I. But I am now taking it to a whole new level (for me) with the garden and canning I started last year.

My mother told me just yesterday how proud she is of me and my efforts. LOL.

But I have yet to do a real cost analysis, so I am intrigued. what sort of changes have you made, and how big is the difference, would you say?
KayJayUU: multitaskkayjayuu on June 9th, 2010 04:56 am (UTC)
*drools over properly frothed milk*

When I worked away from home for almost a year (five very long days a week), I got out of the habit of buying groceries, and let my husband and just-grown son do the shopping mostly for themselves. Yeah. *cough*

Upon returning home to wrestle the food budget under control, I realized just how damn much grocery prices had gone up in those few months. With a lower paying job and fewer hours worked by choice, I've had to get more creative in the kitchen while also trying to keep it simple. I'm lucky in that my son loves to cook also; hubby not so much.

I've had to drop my food budget (small rural town, keep in mind) from their high of $700/month (for mostly two people) to somewhere around $400/month-ish for the three of us. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't. I'd do a lot better if the Super Walmart wasn't 40 miles away (and I'd do serious couponing if I could, but Walgreens and CVS is over two hours' distance). I estimate that groceries have gone up at least 50% in the last couple of years... it's astounding.

This all involved scouring the net for good resources. First thing I discovered was No-Knead Artisan Bread, since a damn loaf of cruddy bread is $3.00. That, coupled with One Minute Ciabatta makes our eating lives worth living. (I love fresh baked bread.)

Then I found Cheap, Healthy, Good, which introduced me to cooking, well, cheap healthy good food. I've never been a foodie until now, and the internet is teaching me everything my mom didn't or couldn't. :-)

Also, spices. Yes, I didn't use much before. I've played with a ton of new flavors thanks to my son's interest in vegetarian dishes and ethnic food.

As far as saving money, at the moment my off-weeks (between paychecks) have forced me to be very creative with beans and rice, and omg have I discovered how good they are! Mujadarrah, Moors and Christians, Red Beans and Rice... I want some now. It helped that I also learned how to "degassify" dried beans, 'cuz... well, yeah, that was always an issue. So I'm more likely to eat them several times a week now.

If my husband would quit being so meat-oriented I could save more. *shakes fist*

Huh. This got long. Sorry!
Miss Crankypantsaka_paloma on June 8th, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking about making my own granola, too, which is odd because I hate granola. Which is even more odd since I like oats, nuts, dried fruits, etc., but I always come away from eating granola thinking it has a funny, unpleasant taste that is nothing like the taste of toasted oats, nuts, dried fruits, etc. Perhaps it's because it is all stale, as you suggested, and if I made my own I might actually like it. It's worth a shot and I always have oats, vanilla, and brown sugar on hand so it's not like it would require much effort. For the nuts, I'm thinking walnuts and instead of honey I'd like to try maple syrup (which I always have on hand, too).
Patron Saint of Pessimism: Dogs: Deuce smilingwoodrunner on June 8th, 2010 08:18 pm (UTC)
I've had that popcorn popper (or something quite like it) for over ten years. Although I am depressed that I can no longer find Redenbacher's jalapeno microwave popcorn anywhere, I use the microwave popper, popcorn, and a bit of coconut oil anytime I have a craving for the popcorn my dad used to make with a pressure cooker over the stovetop.

I wish I'd nabbed that pressure cooker when my parents moved... It ended up in the garbage. :(
(Anonymous) on June 10th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
From Paula:
There was this box on my doorstep today and I didn't remember ordering anything. You told me last night you sent me a little something but this wasn't little.

I opened it up and there it is the popcorn solution I thought didn't exist. Now I sat down and thought I would catch up on your posts and lookie there, if I would have been up to date on my reading I would have known what it was.

Thank you so much! I can't wait to try it! Now that I have the new sectional sofa perfect for watching movies, now I will have the perfect popcorn maker! SWEET!