Monday’s starters

Easy bake

(Photo by Alison Ashton)

(Photo by Alison Ashton)

Years ago, my mate and I called Costco the “$200 club.” And when I say years ago, I mean decades, back when Costco was still Price Club and 200 clams was  chunk of change. The place is stocked with cheap temptation, so that’s why I only visit once every few months. Yesterday was day. Because I visit so infrequently, it’s always exciting to push my supersize cart through the wide warehouse aisles. The best deal I spotted was Cuisinart’s Electric Pressure Cooker for $70 (it normally retails for $100). But I exercised some discipline, for the most part, stocking up on pasta, satsuma tangerines, cheese, and lamb chops. The two-pack of 26.5-ounce jars of Nutella for $8.47, however, proved irresistible.

“I’ll make crepes, or cookies, or something….” I said to justify the purchase.

Of course, I neglected to pick up a two-pack of La Brea Bakery bread, also sold at the emporium, which would have been the most obvious way to enjoy the Nutella. So when we got home and wanted some bread, I felt obligated to rectify the situation. I’ve touted the ease of this pizza dough many times before and figured it could make a nice bread. It did. My only modifications: double the recipe, let it rise for an hour, punch it down and let it rest five minutes, shape it into a loaf, and let it rest for 30 minutes. Bake on a pizza stone for 15 minutes in a 475 F oven. (Thanks, Josh, for creating this nice recipe.) And, yes, it was tasty with the Nutella.

Vintage cookware


Elbow grease and patience restored a rusted-out vintage saucepan.

All things old-timey are chic these days, and that includes vintage cookware. The Food Section notes that kitchenware retailer Sur la Table now is selling antique pots, pans, and utensils via their Web site. This is the place to go for an antique copper jam pot ($650) or, say, a marzipan tulip mold ($99).  If old-school kitchenware is your thing, also check out P.O.S.H., the Chicago retailer that specializes in vintage china, glassware, and serving pieces. Of course, if you’re willing to invest a little time and elbow grease in restoring the old stuff yourself, you can pick up antique cast-iron and other kitchen items at garage sales and flea markets for a lot less.

Chicken breast, yay or nay?

In a moment of sheer stupidity the other day, I picked up a package of skinless, boneless chicken breast. Chicken tenders, no less–I really wasn’t paying attention. As I noted on Twitter (follow me at EatCheap) and Facebook, these things are a dull, tasteless ingredient that I could skip eating for the rest of my life. This met with much agreement among my friends, but what’s your opinion?

Bits ‘n’ bobs + a chance to win a wine country getaway

No Sweat

Picture 3My obsession with pressure cookers continues. Really, if you want to include more whole grains, beans, and legumes in your diet, this stove-top appliance can be your new best friend. For more details, check out my story and soup recipe on Nourish Network. And while you’re there, be sure to join as a Nourish Network site member for a chance to win a three-day wine-country vacation for two to Healdsburg, CA. The prize includes round-trip airfare, lodging, winery and farm tours, and private cooking lessons with Nourish Network founder Lia Huber.

For more pressure cooker ideas, check out my recipes for the October issue of Vegetarian Times, including Spanish Wheat Berry Salad, Autumn Vegetable Tagine, Stuffed Cabbage with Brown Rice and Vegetable Sausage, and 30-Minute Marinara Sauce.

Apple Overload?

Apple Beauty

Photo by Alison Ashton

Apples are abundant–and cheap–these days. Check out my story on for Apple-Walnut Torte, Apple-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, and other recipes that spotlight America’s favorite fruit.


Better Brittle



Photo by Alison Ashton

The James Beard Foundation’s biweekly Beard Bites e-newsletter is a great source of foodie news and recipes. A recent issue included a recipe for Pumpkin Seed Brittle from Guy Reuge of Mirabelle in St. James, NY. What sets this version apart? A smidgen of freshly ground cumin, which lends it subtle, smokey flavor. Delicious. It’s easy to prepare and makes a nice garnish for holiday desserts. It’s also pretty addictive on its own.


Secret to Great Gravy

Picture 1Just in time for Thanksgiving, The Food Section reports that British scientists have uncovered the ingredient for perfect gravy: umami. Now you know.


Tweet of the Week

From @RichardBlais: Save a dish. Why not consolidate and have our cereal in our coffee. Think green!