Saturday, September 27, 2008

What Caused The Economic Crisis? Video

Another View Point.  Also a great sound track.  :-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Authentic Cuban American Recipes: Chicken and Yellow Rice, Cuban Bread, and Cuban Sandwich

Authentic Cuban American Chicken and Yellow Rice Recipe:
Frugal, Delicious and a Taste of the Caribbean.
Where I live there is a lot of Cuban influence. Actually a lot of influence from all of the Caribbean. This is an authentic recipe for Chicken and Yellow Rice. Arroz Amarillo con Pollo.

I am not Cuban, but I have a few friends who are. I also have a friend who is Chinese Cuban American. The Caribbean is a mixture of many ethnicities and it is reflected in their cooking. Back in the day many immigrants from China and India and also Africa were brought to the Caribbean Islands to work the plantations. Her family settled in Cuba from China. She was born in Cuba. She laughs that her father spoke Spanish with a Chinese accent. I also have friends from Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Don't ask me to tell you what mannish water is, or about goats head soup---yuck!

Why Saffron is not Authentic in Cuban American Cuisine.
Chicken and Yellow rice comes from the Spanish influence in Cuba. The Spanish immigrants loved saffron from Spain. However saffron was very pricey and the Spanish immigrants could not get it or afford it in the Islands so they learned to make a substitute out of annatto seeds. They use the seeds to make annatto oil. I've included the recipe for annatto oil at the bottom of this post. In every supermarket where I live, there is always an ethnic section for Cuban cuisine. So where I live, I can buy annatto seeds. I can also buy ready made annatto oil. Most Cuban American cooks today just use the little flavor packets for yellow rice made by VIGO.

The Chicken For Chicken and Yellow Rice
Recipe By: Deana
Serving Size: 6


3 lbs. chicken pieces (bone in and with skin on is the most authentic)
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 recipe yellow rice, see recipe below


Peel, smash and mince garlic. Mix minced garlic in a small bowl with the oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Rub the chicken pieces all over with the garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Marinate, covered at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Then Grill Chicken. The Chicken is most authentic and best grilled, but you can also pan fry or bake.

To Pan fry and bake.
Heat a large frying pan preferably a non-stick coated one and add a little olive oil.Brown the chicken pieces over medium heat until golden brown about 3 minutes per side Then bake in a 350 degree oven about 45 minutes or till cooked through.

Serve over Yellow Rice.

Serving Ideas : Good with black beans too.

NOTES : You can use leftover deboned chicken or turkey and mix it with a recipe of yellow rice for a quick dinner.

Yellow Rice

Recipe By: Deana
Serving Size: 6


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 medium red bell pepper, cored seeded & diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 envelope Vigo coloring, (or annatto oil)
2 cups long-grain white rice
4 cups water


Heat a 4-quart heavy covered pot and add the oil, garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Saute for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer over low heat 20 to 25 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.

How to Make Annatto Oil

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup annatto seeds
Combine the oil and seeds in a small saucepan. Gently cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The oil will have a strong red-orange color. Strain oil and store in the refrigerator.

To use annatto oil in place of the VIGO seasoning packet, use 1 to 2 TBS annatto oil per yellow rice recipe.

For those who want to try this recipe but can't get the VIGO seasoning and coloring packets or can't find annotto seed or annatto oil. You can check web sources Cuban Food Market. Or you can write me and I can send you some.
Or you can use a t. of tumeric (but tumeric is not authentic Cuban American)

Crusty Cuban Bread

Recipe By: Deana
Serving Size: 12


1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour (can in some cases add 1/4 c more flour but try not to. The dough is suppose to be softer than other bread doughs)
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast


Put all into bread pan of bread maker & start on dough cycle. Spray large cookie sheet with oil spray. When dough is done from bread maker: Shape loaf in a long flat bread shape (Similar to Italian Bread or a French baguette but a little flatter and not as round) and place diagonally on cookie sheet. Let rise till doubled about an hour. Make five shallow slashes on loaf. Place a shallow pan in bottom of cold oven. Put a cup of boiling water in the pan. Place cookie sheet with bread on oven rack above the pan with the boiling water. Let rest 10 minutes in oven then turn on oven and set to 400 degrees. Set timer for 35 minutes. Cool bread on rack and then enjoy. :-)

Notes: Alternate Directions.
Using Kitchen Aid Mixer: Put ingredients in kitchen aid mixing bowl. (You can place the warm water and yeast in the mixing bowl first if you like and let proof about 5 minutes.) Then with a dough hook, I mix and knead with the Kitchen Aid mixer on speed 1 to mix and then speed 2, for a total of 5 minutes. Then turn dough out into a greased bowl, cover and let rise till doubled in size. About an hour or so. Then follow directions for shaping and second rise and baking.
Mixing and Kneading by Hand: Put ingredients in a large mixing bowl. (You can place the warm water and yeast in the mixing bowl first if you like and let proof about 5 minutes.) Mix ingredients to form dough. Turn out on counter and knead about 10 minutes till elastic and smooth. Then turn dough out into a greased bowl, cover and let rise till doubled in size. About an hour or so. Then follow directions for shaping and second rise and baking.

The Cuban Sandwich

Cuban bread
yellow mustard & mayonnaise mixed together (Reg. yellow mustard NO Dijon)
pork roast, cold -- thinly sliced
(Cuban Pork Roast is seasoned with Olive Oil, Oregano and Garlic. Where I live I can get Spanish or Cuban Pork roast at all delis. You can also make your own.)
ham, thinly sliced
swiss cheese, thinly sliced
dill pickles, thinly sliced (It's not authentic without the pickles! I don't care if you don't like pickles. The pickles are not optional.)

DO NOT ADD ANYTHING ELSE TO THIS SANDWICH! (You may leave out the mayo if you must- There is some difference of opinion on how authentic the mayo is, but do not add anything else to this sandwich. Some places add salami but salami is not authentic -it was added by Italian immigrants. Never, Never add tomato or lettuce.)


Slice the bread in half lengthwise; Butter the outside if you are going to press the sandwich in a sandwich press otherwise you don't need to butter the outside. Mix mustard & mayonnaise together (not an exact science but more mustard than mayonnaise, around maybe a 2 to 1 ratio of mustard to mayo) then spread on bread inside bottom half and top half. Then build sandwich from bottom up in this order. Must be in this order. Place thinly sliced ham on bottom bread, then on top of the ham place roast pork, cold and not overcooked, thinly sliced, next swiss cheese thinly sliced, and finally dill pickle slices. Top with top piece of bread. For an authentic cuban you now need to place the sandwich in a preheated sandwich press, or you can improvise using a hot iron skillet placing a foil covered brick on top to press. Toast to your taste and serve. If you don't have a sandwich press skip this step and eat. They are fantastic pressed and unpressed.

NOTES: This is an awesome sandwich and probably the most popular sandwich where I live. Every Deli and Grocery store around makes and sells Cubans (The sandwich not the people LOL). No party is complete without a Cuban Sandwich platter.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What is A Good Price? My Grocery Price Book For September 2008

     I thought it would be fun to compare prices around the country (and beyond). These are the best prices I can usually get for things and what I try to use as targets. Please share what things cost where you live. I would love to know.

     I shop at 4 main stores. The first and closet to my home at 1 .2 miles, is Sweetbay, a moderate discount grocery store. It is not as cheap as the super discount stores and try's to compete with the more upscale store Publix. Publix is a full service grocery store and is generally more expensive, but surprisingly is cheaper than Sweetbay on some staples. It is about 2 miles from my house. Then there is Sam's the warehouse club that is about 1.5 miles from my house. It has more stable low prices on certain meats and staples. I also just checked out Aldis which just opened a few stores in my state this week. I had always heard others talk of Aldis so I had to check it out. The closet Aldis is 7.7 miles from my house. There are no super Walmart Super Stores close by.

They all have their Pros and Cons.
 Pros   1. Great sales and loss leader items each week.
            2.  Consistently low canned goods prices and low prices on store brands
            3. large variety of produce
            4. Still has some of the lowest prices for cheese
             5. Closest to my home.
             1. Very high prices on staples like flour and rice lately.
             2. You really have to know your prices because to compensate for their great sales 
                 other everyday items are higher priced.

              1. Nice to shop at. ( They have a nice self serve soda fountain)
              2. Surprisingly some nice sales from time to time
              3. Surprisingly lower priced on staples such as rice, flour, and oil.
              1 Higher priced on most things

              1. Consistent lower prices on meat. If I can't get what I want on sale at the regular 
                 grocery stores they generally have the best non- sale price.
               2. Consistent Low prices on most staples. (again if I can't find a better sale price.
               3. On the few things I am brand loyal too they usually have the best price on brand 
                  names. (however I am not super brand loyal and usually I can find an equivalent
                   store brand that is cheaper than the name brand at other stores.
              1. Doesn't carry a lot of generic brands.
              2. Huge store and I always get lost and spend a ton of extra time. Not an in an out 
               3. I don't have the storage for a lot of bulk shopping.

Pros and Cons Yet to be assessed since I have only been there once. Only con at this time is that it is a bit of a drive.
Fresh Milk 1 Gal :             Sweetbay 3.79,  Aldis 2.72,  Sam's 3.52
Powdered Milk 2/lbs:     Sweetbay  8.49
Canned Evap Milk:          Sweetbay .89,  Aldis   .69
Mozzarella Cheese 8oz:  Sweetbay 1.69, Sam's 12.18/5lbs (1.22/8oz.)
Cheddar Cheese 8oz:       Sweetbay 1.99
Sliced Am. Cheese :          Publix  2.59/16 sl
Velveeta:                            Sam's 7.80/4lbs (.97/8oz)
Eggs Lg. 1 doz:                 Sweetbay 1.69, Aldis 1.19

Smart Balance 3lbs:    Sam's 4.52/3lbs
Margarine  80%:           Sweetbay .89/lb 
Butter:                               Sweetbay 1.99/lb
Vegetable Shortening:   Publix 4.19/3lbs
Vegetable Oil:                   Aldis 2.29/48oz.

Ground Beef 10% fat:  Sam's 2.60/lb
Chicken Leg Quarters: Sweetbay .59/lb
Whole Chicken: Sweetbay Sale price .79/lb, Sam's Everyday price .79/lb
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast:   Sweetbay 2.29/lb
Hot Dog (Ball Park Meat):  Sam's 5.59/3.5lbs (1.60/lb)
Tuna packed in water 6oz can:   Sweetbay 3.49/4 cans (.87 ech)
Turkey Lunch Meat:   Sam's 6.43/2.5 lbs (2.58/lb)
Chuck/Pot Roast:       Sweetbay 2.29/lb
London Broil:      Sweetbay 2.49/lb
Bacon:       Sweetbay 2.49/lb

Fresh Vegetables
Romaine Lettuce 1head:  Sweetbay 1.59
Cucumber: Sweetbay .79 ech,  Aldis .39/ech
Tomatoes: Sweetbay 1.49/lb
Baking Potatoes; Sweetbay 2.49/5lbs
Zuchini:   Sweetbay 1.29/lb

Canned Vegetables
Corn:      Sweetbay .50
Mexicorn: Sweetbay 4.00/5 (.80/ech)
Green Beans: Sweetbay .50
Crushed Tomatoes 28oz.:  Sweetbay 1.19
Tomato Paste 6oz. :  Sweetbay 2.00/5 (.40/ech)
Tomato Sauce 8oz:    Sweetbay 1.00/3 (.34/ech)
Diced Tomato 14.5oz:  Sweetbay .69/ech
Mushroom Pieces 4oz.  Sweetbay  .69/ech

Canned Soups
Cream of Mushroom: Sweetbay .99, Aldis .59
Cream of Chicken:  Sweetbay .99, Aldis .59
Cream of Celery: Sweetbay 1.39

Canned Beans
Black Beans:  Sweetbay 2.00/3 (.67/ech)
Pinto Beans:   Sweetbay 2.00/3 (.67/ech)

Fresh Fruit
Apples:   Sweetbay .99/lb
Bananas: Sweetbay .69/lb
Cantaloup: Sweetbay 2.00/ech
Grapes: 1.49/lb

Fruit Juice
Orange Juice (Not from Concentrate) 1/2 Gal.:  Sweetbay 1.99
Apple Juice 64oz.: Sweetbay 1.47

Canned/Jarred Fruit
Applesauce 25 oz.: Sweetbay 1.29

Grains and Starches
All-Purpose Unbleached Flour:  Publix 2.29/5lbs,  Aldis (bleached)1.69/5lbs
Whole Wheat Flour: Publix 3.99/5lbs
Bread Flour: Publix 2.99/5lbs
Cornmeal 2/lbs: Publix 1.09
Wh. Wheat Spaghetti: Sweetbay 1.29/lb
Wh Wheat Macaroni: Sweetbay 1.29/lb
Wh. Wheat Penne: Sweetbay 1.29/lb
White Loaf Bread 20oz: Publix .89
100% Wh. Wheat Bread: Aldis 1.09
Instant Mashed Potatoes: Sam's 5.28/3.25lbs (1.62/lb)

Baking Supplies
Sugar:  Sweetbay 1.99/5lbs
Baking Powder: Sweetbay 1.49
Baking Soda:  Sweetbay .49
Chocolate Chips 24 oz.: Sweetbay 4.29

Tea Bags Family Size: Sweetbay 1.79
Green Tea Bags: Sweetbay 2.59

Bouillon Cubes: Sweetbay 1.49
BBQ Sauce: Sweetbay .79/18oz
Ketchup: Sweetbay .99/24oz
Peanut Butter: Sweetbay 2.39
Pancake SyrupLight: Sweetbay 2.19

Sweets and Treats
Saltines: Sweeetbay 1.29,  Aldis .89
Pretzles: Sweetbay 1.79
Pudding Cups: Sweetbay .99/4

Chili Powder:  Sweetbay 1.19
Thyme: Thyme: Sweetbay .59
Paprika: Sweetbay 1.19

  (I am continuing to work on this and  will update as I add more, but since I couldn't figure how to cut and paste and then post my spread sheet I am retyping this by hand)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Miniature Pinscher Vs. Maltese Who Will Win?

Who will win? Will the winner be the 10 pound sleek, sophisticated, short haired brunette or the 6 pound, tousled, fun loving blonde?

My House- A Mini Tour

Some of the blogs I have been visiting have been giving tours of their homes. So I thought I would put up some pictures of my house. I actually would have put up more but I dropped and broke my digital camera.

My Kitchen: Dirty dishes in the sink and my husband's stuff on the porch cluttering up the view from the window. And I guess I should at some point clear off the clutter that is on the fridge.

The Master Bedroom
I love my antique Victorian Bedroom Set which is over 100 years old that we inherited. What I don't like are the vertical blinds that don't go with the room at all.

My Living Room and Dining Room at Christmas

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Protecting Unborn Sea Turtles But Not Human Babies

I ran across this You tube Video on another blog. I thought it put things in perspective