Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Star Anise and Vanilla Beans

The other day I was lamenting over the lack of vanilla beans at my grocery store. Well, they carry them now! And sushi rice! Lucky me! Now all we need them to bring in are Creme Fraiche, fresh lychee nuts and star anise! Well, that's not really all, I actually have quite the long list for them, but they do have great prices and they do a profit sharing type thing... anyway. I actually was looking for star anise when I found the vanilla beans. Matt's Oma (grandma) is coming over for dinner tomorrow and the menu has been changing alot all day long. Originally I had been planning on making my risotto style pasta tomorrow because I've been wanting to do that all week, but then I was thinking about making pulled pork sandwiches. This was before I found out she was coming. So then I decided against pulled pork and opted for Stuffed Pork Chops. When I got to the store I realized that while some of their chops were on sale, the best ones for stuffing were not, so I went over to chicken. They had some Chicken Breasts Back Attached on sale and I was about to buy those when I got nervouse about removing the back while keeping the breast reasonably intact. Not my forte. Then I notice chicken thighs were on sale, so... tomorrow for dinner we will be having Stuffed Chicken Thighs, roasted peppers, squash and onions, salad, homemade creamed corn and for dessert, Asian Pears with Star Anise in Parchment (Martha Stewart's recipe). That, my friends, is why I went looking for star anise, and actually, my grocery trip tonight was my second of the day! I was out earlier this afternoon shopping at Value Village (I hardly found a thing worth buying since nearly everything cost as much as it would brand new from stores like Stitches - except for the wool jacket I bought for $30! And some clothes for Gabe) and I decided to stop off at Save-On on my way home to grab some stuff for dinner. Save-On is my secondary grocery store. They have a way better selection than my Co-op but their prices aren't as good, and lots of their produce isn't as local. But, I can count on Save-On having nearly everything I could ever want: vanilla beans, star anise, quinoa, lychee nuts... (No one in town carries Creme Fraiche, so that doesn't really count) Had I figured out what I was going to be making for dessert prior to my trip to Save-On I could have got the star anise there. As it stands, I'll need to go there tomorrow to get some. I did manage to get a smoked pork shoulder for $7 so whenever Matt and I want to have people over for lunch on a Sunday I can pull that out, heat it up and we have lunch meat for 20 people and it didn't have to cost me an arm and a leg! (Stupid deli meat prices) For dinner I made something not quite typical for me: Tuna Casserole. A can of tuna, a can of cream of mushroom soup, some milk, some veggies and some fried chow mein noodles. It's my Grandma's old recipe and I always loved it. Matt really liked it so that was a good sign - I now have a standby for nights when I feel like I have nothing in the house!
As a bit of an aside, and inspired by my day today, I wanted to list some things that I like.
First off, the new Tetley Warmth tea - Cinnamon Spice with Orange Blossom. A touch of honey and it's like fall in a cup.
Breyers No Sugar Added, Smooth and Dreamy line, Extra Creamy frozen dessert. It's not your typical no-frills, no-flavour, healthy alternative. I buy it for the taste. It's actually the closest thing you'll find to homemade without having to make it yourself, I think!
Ooh, tiny little silver-skin onions that were just so adorable I had to buy them and changed my menu to work them in.
And lastly, I really love foot rubs, but that hasn't happened for me today... yet!
I'm also going to list some things I don't like: Matt being gone the last two nights until at least 11:00, arthiritis, diapers the day after my baby eats chili for the first time (and corn!) and not getting foot rubs.
Last night I went to my parents' house for dinner while Matt went to Edmonton to visit his Pake (Great-Grandpa who is nearly 100) and it turned out that my mom suddenly got sick when she got home from work so I didn't get to talk with her about the cafe or gardening or anything like that! However, my dad did try to compensate by talking with me about homemade Christmas presents. He actually helped me to decided what I'm making everyone this year! Syrups, of course, biscotti and truffles! Yummy, eh? The women love the syrups, the men love the liquer filled truffles and the biscotti will be for people like my grandma, who wouldn't like either of the others! Since I'm already making loads of biscotti for the Ministry Fair at church it won't be an issue to put some aside for Christmas, the truffles I've been meaning to make for 4 years now, and the syrups take so little time and effort, how can I not? Ah yes, I should also add to those three things my own loose-leaf tea. This is not a certainty because I'm really unsure of how it will turn out, but I have a whole pot of chocolate mint that I'm going to dry, and I'll mix that with some chopped up licorice root and it will be fantastic - I hope! I'm also going to try to do up some Bath salts, but that's just for fun :)
Well, I think I'd best finish my tea, get to sleep and wake up early enough to maybe bake some bread!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

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