Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dollar stores

I have to say it, I love dollar stores. I love being able to go in with $10 and come out with 10 items. I love going in and finding neat stuff. I love being able to stock up on snacks and not break the budget.

But I don't love everything in the dollar store. There are times you are actually paying more for an item then you would in a regular store, esp when you consider cost per ounce or such. Plus you sometimes don't get the quality of regular store stuff. Case in point, I will NEVER buy coffee at the dollar store again. It was an off brand and I ended up composting the unused grounds the coffee from it was so foul and I usually buy the cheap stuff from the grocery store.

I also won't buy oven cleaner there again. It said low fumes. If that was low fumes, I'd hate to buy the non-low fumes stuff. Dead of winter and I had the windows and doors open and fans running. Danged near gassed us out of the house.

But I love buying a lot of my dishes, glassware and kitchenware there. If I break a $1 wine glass, I am not going to be unhappy (if I break one of my antique wine glasses I will be curled up on the floor in tears). I also love buying a lot of my cleaning supplies there, the sponge/scrubby combo sponges at 6 for a buck are great.

Shampoos, soaps, toothbrushes and toothpastes are a good buy. I also buy the green 50% alcohol there I like to use for the basis of my kitchen cleaners.

Seasonal items such as garden tchatchies are great and I love the dollar store around Christmas time as I get a lot of great decorations, gift bags and wrapping for cheap and I can make some of the best bath spa baskets for gifts.

The one problem I don't like about dollar stores if I find something I really love, say a food item, I can always get it again. We found a brand of mustard we like, Plochman's, and it is a good thing we stocked up on it a while back. They don't carry it any more.

Oh well, I'll keep shopping at the dollar store and finding my little treasures and enjoy them.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

For the last number of years Hollywood has been attempting to bring comic books to the big screen. For the most part, they have failed miserably. Tim Burton's Batman in 1989 was quite good, Iron Man in 2008 was not bad, tho it didn't quite hit the mark as far as I am concerned (but after having my doubts, Robert Downey Jr did pull off Tony Stark quite nicely). All the Spidermans were too damned angsty. I will hold out opinion on Green Lantern and Thor until I can see them on DVD, they did not look good enough to spend money going to the theatre to see, even at matinee prices.

Captain America on the other hand.....

First off, what magic did they use to make 6' 1/2" Chris Evans into a 5' what ever nothing, 98 lb weakling?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Chris may be familiar to people as Johnny Storm from the Fantastic 4 movies (and I won't even go there in what I thought about those. Suffice to say I am glad I didn't pay money to see them). Here he is able to shine as Steve Rogers, scrappy kid from Brooklyn who only wants to join the army to fight along side his best friend. But alas, he keeps getting 4F'd no matter how many times he tries (and try he does).

He is spotted by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci, an actor I love to see in just about anything) who is looking for the perfect subject for an experiement for the US MIlitary. In young Steve he spots the qualities he is looking for and manages to get him enlisted and assigned to the top secret project.

Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips has his doubts, but when the experiment works is impressed, but things go awry and our newly hunky (and tall) young hero is stuck serving his country doing war bonds tours. In the meantime, the evil Nazi bad guy, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) is well on his way of achieving his goal of world domination....

THIS is the way a comic book movie should be done. The script was fun, the dialog great and of the time. The casting was perfect and the chemistry between Steve and Peg was just right. Any angst is dealt with quickly. The whole movie FEELS like the 1940s, I so want to go to that World's Fair early in the movie. The cars, the clothes, the music, it all rang true. The evil bad guys had the COOLEST toys and secret lairs all over the place.

With a couple of exceptions the CGI was good (the exceptions were a couple action sequences where it wasn't quite right, but the movie is so fun I will forgive them for not being perfect). The special effects didn't overwhelm the movie, it helped move the plot along, like good special effects should.

We enjoyed the movie so much we were tempted to go back in to see it again. For sure we can't wait to get it on DVD so we can pause to get a better look at details such as posters.

The movie does set up for a sequel, which is in the works. I have my fingers crossed they can pull it off as well as Captain America, esp since it is being directed by Joss Whedon (Firefly and Serenity), who also is doing the screenplay.

All in all, a fun romp.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Goldbaum's Brown Rice Pasta

I am always on the look out for pasta that I can eat. I have one brand of brown rice pasta that I love, but it is a bit on the pricey side for our budget, so I usually only buy the spaghetti for special occasions. So I was happy to see that the Grocery Outlet we shop at in Lewiston ID has started carrying more gluten free products and in specific brown rice spaghetti. So I grabbed a couple of packages.

I decided that I had to do spaghetti for dinner that weekend, so I started my sauce and when it was close to dinner time, broke out my favorite pasta pot.

Filled it with water, tossed in some salt and set it to boil. Once boiling I added the spaghetti and set my timer for 7 minutes (instructions were for 7-10 minutes). At 7 minutes it was getting there and was pretty much at the right texture by 10 minutes.

I drained the pasta and then set to plating and topping with it with sauce and cheese and it was dinner time.

The flavor of the pasta was good, hubby actually prefers brown rice pasta over regular wheat pasta (and he wasn't a big pasta fan in the first place). One problem I've had in the past with non-wheat spaghetti is they didn't hold together, breaking into smaller pieces in the cooking process. That is fine for people who probably prefer that, usually breaking the spaghetti into smaller pieces for cooking, but I prefer to be able to twirl and slurp my 'sketti and that is a big part of my enjoyment of it. So I have been very happy with the brown rice spaghetti I have tried so far as they are the next best thing to regular wheat spaghetti.

I have since gone back to Grocery Outlet and stocked up on Goldbaum's Brown Rice spaghetti and I hope it will be a regularly available item in the future.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sam Mills Corn Pasta

Last month I was in Vancouver WA and wandered into the Grocery Outlet there on the advice of a friend who said they carried gluten free pastas and picked up a few packages of various types the above tube pasta, shell pasta, fusilli, spaghetti and fettuccine.

I haven't tried the long pastas yet, opting for the shell pasta to start as I wanted to do a pasta salad on a recent hot weekend.

I read the instructions and grabbed my favorite pasta pot and set to work. At 9 minutes I found the pasta to be still very crunchy, so kept it cooking. I also found the water thickened quite a bit and that my favorite pasta pot was much too small to cook a whole package (it works with regular wheat pastas) and even cooking it longer couldn't get it to the texture that would be acceptable for both hubby and I (I prefer al dente, he prefers softer and I can usually come up with a compromise). I drained the pasta and rinsed it and let it cool down and then proceeded to make a pasta salad with tuna.

While the shells were still a bit too al dente for the hubby, I liked them. We both liked the flavor as it complemented the salad nicely. It was a very satisfactory meal.

The next pasta I tired was the tubetti rigati. This time I broke out the big pot to make sure there was plenty of room and water for boiling. Again I found it took longer then 9 minutes to get to the texture we wanted, but only a few more minutes more as I periodically took a sample for hubby to try. Finally got it right.

I then drained the pasta and since it was a hot meal, didn't rinse it. I tossed it with butter and then served it with some cubed beef and gravy I had made. Both hubby and I were very happy with the result. The gravy filled the little tubes and the pasta held up to the heavier topping very well.

The cost of the pasta was very good also, we picked them up at the Grocery Outlet for $1.99 a package, and when one is having to be gluten free, inexpensive and good quality replacements for wheat products is very helpful for the family food budget.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Southgate Corned Beef Hash

I do love going to the dollar store, you can find all sorts of things that are good (and a few that aren't, but that will be another review.

On one of my most recent trips I found a corned beef hash I'd never heard of:

The one problem with dollar stores tho is you can't always get the same brand of something you like. I've been haunting their food aisle for a while since they used to carry another brand of corned beef hash I loved, but haven't stocked it in a while. So I picked up the can to check the ingredients list and saw the lovely words "contains no allergens".

YAY! Gluten-free! Food manufacturers manage to sneak gluten products into some of the oddest items, so it was nice to see I could eat it safely.

My favorite way to have corned beef hash is fried, topped with an egg or two, sunny side up. Alas, since I decided these were for lunches at work I had to settle for heated up in the microwave.

Corned beef hash is naturally greasy, esp the canned variety, so I made sure I covered the dish with a paper towel. Good thing too as the microwave would have looked like a slaughter house from all the spitting. The advantage of the paper towel is it got a lot of the excess grease.

I let it cool a bit (I tend to like it to be rocket hot to start with), stirred it up a bit and then took a taste.

Not bad, milder flavor then what I was used to, not as salty as a few brands that I have had. There is a light taste of licorice or such that was good.

I am hoping the dollar store has more since I'd only picked up a couple of cans to try. I would love to see how it does fried with a couple of eggs, sunny side up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mexican Coke

Way back in 1985 Coca Cola came out with "New Coke" and ran into a tempest. People didn't like it, more importantly I didn't like it. A couple months later they gave in and brought out "Coca-Cola Classic". Only problem was they changed the formula to use high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar. Most people didn't mind, but I never found Coke Classic to be as good as original Coke.

Fast forward a number of years and I discover in Newfoundland a bottle of Coca Cola, made with cane sugar. This is when I learned that Coke in other countries is usually made with sugar and not HFCS. Unfortunately, Newfoundland is on the other side of the country from where I live and I can't get up to Canada enough to find a supply there.

Imagine my happiness a couple years ago to find that Costco was carrying Mexican Coke made with sugar. I was in heaven and would buy a flat or two when I shopped there. Imagine my dismay when Costco stopped selling Coca Cola products. So I was very happy to find I could get Mexican Coke at a local Mexican restaurant and even happier when Winco started carrying it. So now I have a source for Coke that tastes like it should:

No HFCS in sight. This Coke has a nice clean flavor, isn't cloying like most sodas made with HFCS and one bottle is actually satisfying. I love to pour it into a glass over ice and sit and enjoy.

Mexican Coke can be hard to find, but worth the hunt.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grille from Ipanema

I have just one thing to say...OH...MY...GODDESS!!!!

This restaurant opened in Coeur d'Alene recently and we simply had to try it. We got our opportunity on Saturday when we had to drive up to do some shopping.

We got there a bit before 3 for a late lunch and there were still a few patrons there, most out on the patio. We opted for sitting inside. Our waiter arrived and asked if we had eaten there before, so he explained how the full Churrasco (pronounced shoo-RAS-koo) experience worked and of course we said yes (why go to a Brazillian steakhouse and not experience it properly). He then took our drink orders (iced tea) and left the red/green discs we would be needing:

Grille from Ipanema

Green means we wanted more meat and red meant we were not ready for more or we were done. I tended to keep mine very close at hand to flip back to green if I saw a skewer coming with something I wanted LOL!

First up tho was a visit to the buffet for salad and side dishes:

Grille from Ipanema

There were so many choices, but I started with a little green salad, fresh mozzarella, heart of palm, Brazilian rice and collard greens to die for:

Grille from Ipanema

The first of the meat arrived:

Grille from Ipanema

The shredded beef is asada and so tender and flavorful, the other is top sirloin. I was in beef heaven. Since it was lunch, the meat choices were limited, but still more then enough. I pretty much stopped taking pictures of food at that point I was so into enjoying my meal. We also had grilled vegetables, grilled Brazilian sausage, grilled chicken wrapped in bacon and garlic steak.

We had a nice view of the rest of the restaurant:

Grille from Ipanema

I made a 2nd trip back to the hot dishes for more collard greens and to try their chicken stroganoff, along with more mozzarella and heart of palm. The stroganoff was very tasty, the sauce had mustard in it. I had lost my head at that point and didn't think to ask if it had any wheat products tho. I had made sure I stayed away from everything I knew was wheat. I didn't have any problems after, but I will think to ask next time what went into it (not to mention so I can duplicate it at home LOL!). I will have to ask next time how they did their collard greens, they were the best I have ever had.

I finally had to flip my card to red and just sit and enjoy being there. The atmosphere of the restaurant was wonderful, the music was good, the staff were fantastic and we just wanted to linger. I did flip my card back over to have them stop by with the grilled pineapple. A small piece, but so yummy and the perfect way to end the meal.

Soon it was time to go, so we paid our check and headed out, but not before I snapped one final pic:

Grille from Ipanema

We are so going back up there for dinner when we get the chance, I do want to try the fish in mango sauce and the spicy chicken.

As we were leaving, hubby turned to me and said "As much as I love your lasagna, that was the best meal I have ever eaten!". I have to agree with him, I have never had a better meal and I eaten in lots of place here and abroad. Not only was it satisfying to the taste buds and tummy (while we had quite a bit, at no time were we so full that it was uncomfortable), it was very soul satisfying. So much so we were still soul satisfied the next day.

So run, fly, take a bus or drive to Coeur d'Alene and try out Grille from Ipanema, you won't be sorry.

The Filling Station, Troy ID

A while back a small restaraunt was opened up in Troy at a remodeled gas station and is called The Filling Station. We've been driving by for a while and kept telling ourselves we had to stop in some time and check them out. After we determined I was gluten intolerant I figured there wouldn't be much I could have besides coffee, tea and maybe a salad.

So imagine my delight a couple weeks back when my mom and I drove by and I caught a glimpse of a sign that said gluten free (at least I thought it did, we didn't go back to check). I looked them up and sure enough, there was an post on their Facebook page saying they had gluten free options.


So today we went for a late lunch.

The Filling Station, Troy ID

They have a few items on the menu :D

The Filling Station, Troy ID

The Filling Station, Troy ID

and a fair selection of desserts:

The Filling Station, Troy ID

Deciding what to order was hard, everything sounded delicious. Finally decided and ordered. I went up and said "gluten free?!?!?" and the gentleman at the counter smiled and said they had options available. I wanted a GF Magharita panini and he said no problem. Also asked if I was Celiac or not. I told simply gluten intolerant and in my case we didn't have to be too stringent on preparation. It is good that they ask so that someone with Celiac can work with them on their order. The hubby ordered their French dip and we both had fresh brewed iced tea with lemon.

We picked out a spot to sit and kicked back to relax. They did a nice job on the remodel, the place was comfortable and while it was mid-afternoon, people were coming in and out.

The Filling Station, Troy ID

Our order eventually came out and oh my:

The Filling Station, Troy ID

I had the option of the gluten free bread or between two corn tortillas. Since I so seldom can get a real sandwich in a restaurant now, I went for the bread. This had fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto sauce.

Hubby's French dip, with cheddar cheese, roast beef and caramelized onions and au jus:

The Filling Station, Troy ID

I tried a bit of the roast beef and it was quite delicious and very flavorful.

I seriously savored every bit and it was wonderful. Hubby liked his sandwich and we loved the atmosphere of the place and just felt like lingering. Hubby decided to try their chai tea. Quite good, a lovely flavor. They didn't have a large enough cup for the size he'd ordered, so when he finished the first bit, he went back for the rest. He also came back with a piece of their triple chocolate mousse (gluten free of course):

The Filling Station, Troy ID

I spent the next several minutes slowly enjoying the mousse, savoring every bite and purring the entire time. They had several other gluten free desserts and I am looking forward to trying them on later visits (oh yes, I WILL be going back LOL!).

They also have gluten free pizza, either hot or take and bake, so do want to give it a try.

So if you find yourself near Troy Idaho, do stop in and give them a try, you will not regret it.

A new blog

In which I will review what ever I want.