Sunday, March 28, 2010

This Little Piggy . . .

Have you seen the price of bacon these days? Certainly gives pause when hearing the expression that “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” .. In my not-so-humble opinion, the sow’s ear IS the silk purse.

At the supermarket, these days, most of the time, you don’t even buy a pound (16 oz) of bacon anymore. No sir-ree! Most of the cured and sliced pig is packaged into 12 ounce portions. This last trip to the market, the least expensive selection was priced at two for six dollars. And that was the “I-never-heard-of-that-brand-before brand” – not a lot of lean meat showing on the few and strangely irregular slices peeking through the little lift-up-the-flap window. Look at it this way .. calculator out and in hand: that 12 ounce package at three dollars would make it four dollars a pound. Not bad. But wait! When the bacon is cooked, you are left with something like 20% food and 80% cooked-off grease. Unless you use and consume all of that grease, you have just paid four dollars for three point two ounces of meat, making that 12 ounce package of bacon actually cost ten dollars or thirteen dollars and thirty three cents pound. Filet mignon, yes! Lobster, definitely. But bacon??? I don’t think so. On the other hand, what are you actually paying if you choose The Brand bacon at $11 or $12 a package (still 12 oz)???

Back in the 1900’s, I’m guessing in the thirties or forties, my dad had a farm where he raised hogs, among other things. He told me one time that when he got a nickel (5¢) a pound, he felt rich.

So the little ‘ditty’ has changed and goes something like this:

(Old: This little piggy went to market)
   This little piggy went shopping at the exclusive organic food boutique,(Old: This little piggy stayed at home)
   This little piggy stayed at his castle lounging by the pool,(Old: This little had roast beef)
   This little piggy had Sushi,
(Old: And this little piggy had none)
   This little piggy is on a diet of Perrier and black Russian caviar.
(Old: And this little piggy went wee-wee-wee all the way home).
   And this little piggy went oui oui oui all the way to his maison in Paris.

This country gal loves to cook with her bacon, and for those few times when “ya just gotta have it” .. and can’t bring yourself to use the already-cooked-and-chopped-up-in-a-package variety, try this sweet little trick.

Purchase the bacon, bring it home and freeze it solid – no cheating! When you’re ready to use it, remove from the freezer. Unwrap and discard the outer cardboard packaging (if it comes that way). Cut a small slit in the plastic wrapping and microwave on high for ONE minute. Remove from the plastic and cut into small pieces going across the bacon. The easiest way to cut it is with a pair of kitchen scissors, but a good, sharp knife will work with the nearly frozen bacon. Continue with regular cooking method from here.

If you only need a half a package, after the one minute in the microwave, cut the entire package in half, wrap the unused portion in freezer-safe wrap, label and freeze (no, it won’t harm it as the bacon has not been completely thawed). Or, you can cook the entire package and freeze what you don’t need at this time.

Since my dad is mentioned earlier, I thought you might enjoy a little bit more of his wonderful, cantankerous, generous and always fun personality. This man was and still is my hero. Since my folks were adults during the GREAT DEPRESSION, they learned how to live on less than . . . and they passed so much wisdom on to their three daughters.

Daddy often bought bent, dented, and no-more-label canned goods; no, not exclusively, but if something was a bargain, he bought it! We always had an excess of canned goods and never did without.

He always bought what was on sale and we were blessed to be raised with a variety of foods … I still refuse to eat Scrambled Beef Brains and Rocky Mountain Oysters, but I do have a broad range of food tastes.

Once, my mom had to explain that just because Daddy kept a lot of postage stamps in his desk, he did NOT get them on sale at the post office….big surprise to me as I thought he got everything at a bargain!

One time, Daddy bought a batch of small cans that had no labels. They turned out to be “people food” but my mom was concerned that they could have been cat food, but she dutifully opened them. She was relieved to discover edible food for her family instead of cat food.

I admit to shopping the same way. If the can does not have any sign of liquid on the outside and is not “bulging” it’s safe. Why not save forty or fifty cents on a bent can?

Easter with all its Promises is just around the corner. Have a Blessed time in your House of Worship and please remember why we celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Christ.

Have a wonderful Country Week as we watch and hope for Spring-like weather.        © 2010 Cat Brennan

Friday, March 12, 2010

Country Spring Days

March is full of Country Spring Living days. We’ve already been blessed with some deliciously warm days. Just a couple of weeks ago, we all were wearing heavy coats with our necks toasty; scarves wrapped or knotted in place. Today, here in Central Virginia, all of God’s creatures were out in short sleeved shirts and I saw a lot of shorts while trying not to be blinded by the neon-white legs.

Don’t forget to set your clocks forward this Saturday night, March 14th before you go to bed. Day Light Savings Time kicks in and you don’t want to be an hour late for church.

Saint Patrick’s Day and all its green glory is this coming Wednesday on the 17th, and of course the first day of Spring is Saturday, March 20th.

Open up the doors and windows in your home for a good airing-out. Even if it rains, the warmer temperatures will allow this; time to do wash or dry clean curtains and draperies. Don’t forget to change the batteries in your smoke alarms. Check them at least twice a year. Can’t remember? Put it on your calendar along with the doctor and dental appointments. Speaking of changing … turn your mattress every three months. Perhaps not a life-saving issue like the smoke alarm, but definitely a comfort issue so put it on the calendar; turn it to “the other side” and "end to end" for true rotation.

While exorcizing the winter blahs from your home think about “stuff” that has collected. Do you hang on to lone socks (this is where my adult children would truly groan because I was once famous for my “sock basket”. Please note the PAST TENSE form!). If you just can’t throw out a loner, give it a time limit .. three strikes (3 laundry days) and it’s out. Or, at least turn it into a mitten style dust rag. Just don’t expect the mate to show up; it’s gone like a kid’s allowance at a candy store.

When lists were invented, your's truly chaired and masterminded the committee! Keeping a “master” packing list in your computer to print on demand will save time and worry about what to pack when traveling. This works well for business and leisure travel. You should also have a “don’t forget to do” list for those extended times away including items such as: turn down the heat or a/c, unplug small appliances, shut down computer, check locks on all doors and windows.

Make some green drinks for the kids, add a few drops of green food coloring to water or soda or cookies and frosted cup cakes. This makes the wearin’ o’ the green more fun for all. Let’s face it, on March 17th, everyone is Irish.

Have a green Country spring.                                                                                            © Cat Brennan

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Country Gardening and Car Care

      The weekend is off to a great start with plans to clean up the patio and get ready for spring plants.  A friend has promised me some heirloom tomato plants and I have five new clean and empty plastic containers ready for good soil and container gardening.  Add these white former kitty litter buckets to the containers from last year and we're set for good veggies and plenty of space for them. 
      In addition to the tomatoes, there will be carrots for Miss InjaPig, Rosemary, Basil,Chives, Geraniums and Marigolds (remember to grow lots of basil to chase off those pesky fruit flies).  Is my tiny patio ready for some green beans? We'll soon find out! 
      Car care! There is nothing this Country Gal likes less than car care.  My mantra is this: put in gas and go!
      My first experience pumping gas was probably in the mid to late seventies.  A brand new self serve gas station had opened.  It was the only one of its kind in the small community and that made it a natural for an all day remote broadcast for our radio station.  There I was, in a dress, stockings and sling-back high heels, pumping gas and doing live "play by play" on the air.
      Did you know that gas hoses did not always come with an automatic shut off? I made the mistake of looking away while pumping gas and talking and pumped gas into my brand new high heels! 
      From then on, instead of being 'Cathy D' on the air, I became 98 Octane Cathy.
      Now an expert at pumping gas, this Cat can check the oil, A/T fluid, brake fluid, coolant, tire pressure and change her own air filter.  I do draw the line at oil changes, but who knows since independence and self sufficiency are my goal.
      Please note!  You can save a few bucks by buying your air filter at the auto parts store and put it in yourself. It's EASY.  Depending on the make and model of your ride, you can save some bucks. The appropriate timing for changing the air filter seems to be every other oil change .  Put on some rubber gloves and go to it.
      Here's wishing you a wonderful Country Weekend full of fun.                                        © Cat Brennan

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Lord's Prayer: Andrea Bocelli with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir ♫

If you've read my profile, you know that my absolute favorite tenor on the planet is Andrea Bocelli; all others pale by comparison. Some of you may have seen him as a professional tutor on one of television's "music reality" shows a few years ago. You may also know this talented man is blind.  I will even go so far as to say that Bocelli is to his genre of music as Ray Charles was to his.  Please, click on this link and listen to the clip. I believe you will be blessed; while you're at it, check out that organ!  Country + music blessings your way!  ©Cat Brennan

The Lord's Prayer