Supermarket Sticker Shock

© Can Stock Photo/
sadakko

Have you been to the grocery store lately? If so, then you know food prices are going through the roof. Thankfully, my mother taught me how to shop smart at a very young age, and I’ve heeded her advice ever since. It has saved me a lot of money, especially when I was going through lean times. I  learned even more money saving tricks after I became an adult.

The Dollar Store
Some dollar stores are like scaled down grocery stores and may offer a good selection. They’re a good place to stock up on staples such as flour and sugar, as well as canned goods, shampoo and soap. Some also carry milk, eggs, butter and produce. However, most items may only available in the smallest size, so you may find better deals on the larger sizes at your regular store. Also check the labels closely. I once thought I’d  gotten a really good deal on olive oil, but it turned out it to be vegetable oil with only 1% olive oil.
Forget Brand Loyalty
My mother taught me to take my time and compare prices. She said name brand items, even when on sale, usually cost more than the generic store brand. Most of the time the store brands are just as good. (The only exception I’ve found is dishwashing detergent.) My mother’s advice remains true today. Think about it. Advertising is expensive, and the food manufactures pass the cost onto you. So forget brand loyalty. They’re not exactly being loyal to you.
Coupons Aren’t Always a Bargain
When I was first starting out on my own I cut out all the grocery coupons from the Sunday paper, thinking I would save money. However, when I looked closer, I realized coupons weren’t as good of a bargain as they appeared. While they may you save some money, you should also take a closer look at the store brand. You may get a better deal with the store brand, even with the coupon.
Watch for Sales
My mother always watched for sales and weekly specials, particularly in the fresh meat and produce isles. Fresh meat and poultry freezes well. She also looked for bargains in the canned food isles. If something was on sale, she stocked up. By the way, if you do your own canning you can save money stocking up on fresh fruits and making your own jams and jellies. And don’t be afraid to try homes canning. I’ll walk you through it, so Yes You Can Can.
Grow Your Own
Seeds are cheap, so if you have a yard try planting tomatoes or squash instead of daisies. Gardening can be a lot of fun, and if you only have a small patio you can use a planter box. It’s a fun activity the whole family can participate in, and it’s a great way to teach your kids where food comes from.
Beware of Impulse Buying
If impulse buying were and Olympic event, I’d be a gold medalist. Did you know there’s a science behind the way items are displayed in the grocery store? There actually is, and it’s used to trick you into buy more. My advice is to have a grocery list and stick to it. I started buying my groceries online long before the Covid pandemic and it really reduces the temptation. You can do curbside pickups of have them delivered, whichever way you prefer. Online shopping is easy and convenient, and it too can help you save money.
So there you have it, and every little bit helps.
Gayle Martin

My New Mexico Kitchen

photo by Gayle Martin

I know I haven’t been around lately. However, there was a reason for it. I sold my home in Tucson, Arizona, (sort of like Jojo in that old Beatles song), and now living in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

I’m love my new home. It even came with an outdoor mini kitchen, which I’ll use once the hot, humid weather breaks. I also look forward to trying out some New Mexico recipes.

From what I’m seeing so far, Las Cruces is a foodie town. New Mexico definitely is a foodie state. I’ve already fallen madly in love with New Mexico Pinon Coffee, and I’m enjoying the New Mexico wines.

One of the big events in Las Cruces is the Hatch Chile Festival, which, thanks to Covid, is cancelled this year. However, you can still buy fresh Hatch chilis at the grocery store, and they’ll roast them for you in the parking lot. There is nothing quite like the smell of steaming hot fresh roasted chilis. If Glade were to ever make a Roasted Chili scent, I’d buy a case of it. In the meantime, I’m putting fresh Hatch chili in my chicken chili, on burgers, scrambled eggs, and I’m loving it.

Gayle Martin

Heather Learns How to Cook

My friend, Heather Stricker-DeBenedetti, performs at The Gaslight Theater here in Tucson, Arizona. Heather, along with her husband, Greg, and their family, have been keeping us entertained on social media with their video series, Couple who Quarantines. In their latest episode, Heather is learning how to cook, and let’s just say she’s having a few challenges. I haven’t had this good of a laugh in a long, long time, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

So, for your viewing pleasure, The Couple Who Quarantines, Episode 6, Nailed It

Gayle Martin

Grocery Shopping Lessons

I learned from my mother

© Can Stock Photo/
sadakko

People are funny. Not “ha-ha” funny. More like, bizarre, funny. Being an author, I have no choice but to be on social media, and for years I’ve seen all kinds of posts, comments and memes belittling those who choose to prepare for an unexpected emergency. They’re called, preppers, conspiracy theorists and tin foil hat wearers.

People are mean-spirited and judgemental. That is, until some unexpected emergency, such as coronavirus, comes along. Then guess who’s panicking and grabbing up all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer? The very same people who made fun of the preppers and their tin foil hats.

We’ve become spoiled

Too many people honestly believe that food somehow magically appears in the grocery store. It doesn’t. The grocery store is the end of a long chain which begins on the farm, and farming is a high risk business. Droughts, floods, freezes, and pests such as locusts, can destroy crops, which means less availability and higher prices. In a worst case scenario they can create a shortage. Other factors, such as labor disputes, can effect the food supply as well. We’ve also become spoiled. Very spoiled. Thanks to modern technology, American grocery shelves all always full. Even seasonal fruits and vegetables, once only available certain times of the year, are now available virtually year round, thanks to modern food distribution.

It’s happened before

There was a time, however, in recent history, when the American food supply was disrupted, and I wrote Rosie’s Riveting Recipes to teach people about this period of history. It was during WWII, and the U.S. government had to come up with a plan to discourage hoarding and help prevent shortages. Their solution was rationing, and my article, Food Rationing During WWII, at the top of this blog, explains it in more detail.

My mother grew up during WWII. She said that even with food rationing, grocery store shelves were often bare. This experience certainly impacted her, and as an adult, and one of the things she taught me was how to shop wisely. This included not buying the name brand if the lesser known brand was cheaper. She also taught me to stock up whenever something was a sale. If there was a special on canned corn, she bought a few extra cans and put them in the pantry for later. It didn’t make her a tin foil hat hoarder. She was simply stretching her dollar, and her advice holds true today. If you only need one can of corn, and it’s on sale, buy an extra can or two, even if you don’t need it right now. Same goes for canned peas or tuna fish. Stuff happens, and it’s always nice to have a little extra food and supplies on hand, just in case.

Gayle Martin

 

Cover photo by Robert Resetar.

Rosie’s Riveting Recipes is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cure for Mashed Potato Phobia

© Can Stock Photo / olenayemchuk

I’ll bet if I were to take a poll and ask Americans what is their favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal, the answer would mostly likely be mashed potatoes.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the turkey and stuffing too, but Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without the mashed potatoes. Amazingly enough, there are people out there who don’t serve mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving because they’re “unhealthy” or “too fattening.” Sorry, but that’s just wrong in so many ways! I’m also thankful I’m not having my Thanksgiving dinner of their houses. If I found out my host or hostess wasn’t serving mashed potatoes I’d bring my own.

No one needs to be phobic about mashed potatoes. Especially on a special day like Thanksgiving. There are some really simple ways to make them healthier, so you don’t have to deprive other people of their favorite part of the meal. So, here are my suggestions for dealing with Mashed Potato Phobia.

Keep the skin on the potato

Remember when we were kids and our parents told us that the skin was the best part of the potato? Well, they were right. Potato skins are high in vitamins and a good source of fiber. The skin also has the most flavor. So I leave some of the skin on when I peel my potatoes. Along with being healthier, it adds a wonderful flavor and texture to the finished mashed potatoes.

Use skim milk, 2% milk, chicken stock, or a combination thereof

Chicken stock, along with the skins, adds even more flavor while cutting back on fat and calories. I would, however, recommend using at least little bit of milk along with it just to add creaminess and thickness.

Skip the margarine

I think we all know by now that margarine is a trans fat, and trans fats are extremely unhealthy. I no longer allow margarine in my home. In fact, I consider trans fats to be poison. Nowadays I only use real butter. However, if you’re worried about cutting fat and calories, you can also skip the butter and use the chickenstock.

See? How simple was that? With just a few easy steps everyone can enjoy healthier, and more flavorful, mashed potatoes.

Gayle Martin

 

Cover photo by Robert Resetar.

By the way, Rosie’s Riveting Recipes includes delicious historic potato recipes. It’s available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

 

Classic Recipes vs Modern Cuisine

A bowl of chicken and dumplines
© Can Stock Photo / MSPhotographics

I’ve always subscribed to the notion that what separates a good cook from a not so good cook is their willingness to tweak recipes to put their own stamp on them. However, I sometimes get annoyed with celebrity chefs on television. I’ve watched them belittle the old classics, saying they’re too “old fashioned.” Or they’ll make a crass remark about it being the 21st century and not 1950s. Really? What a bunch of conceited, arrogant jerks!

What makes these recipes classic? The answer is simple. They taste great. That’s why they’ve been around for such a long time.

I’ll always remember my grandmother’s cooking. As far as my siblings and I were concerned, no one on the planet could cook better than Grandma. I also remember my sister-in-law bragging about writing down all of Grandma’s recipes. Those recipes are family heirlooms. Nothing makes us feel like Grandma is still with us more than enjoying her tapioca pudding or her chicken and dumplings. 

I feel the same when I prepare my dad’s famous pinto beans. My father could hold his own in the kitchen. In fact, he could open the refrigerator, grab leftovers, and create an amazing dish without a recipe.

A family recipe collection can be a priceless legacy which can be easily copied and shared. You never need to worry about fighting with your siblings over who gets the recipe box. You won’t have to pay any estate tax on it either. That is, until the government figures out a way to do it.

So, here’s to my grandmother’s recipes, and our passing them down to our own grandchildren.

Gayle Martin

Welcome To Rosie’s Riveting Recipes

Book Cover for Rosies Riveting Recipes
Cover photo by Rob Resetar

Rosie’s Riveting Recipes is based on my historic cookbook of the same name. It includes World War II era ration recipes from the book, along with many of my own. If you like old-fashioned home cooking, just like Grandma used to make, you’ve come to the right place. And if you’ve tried some of these recipes and liked them, please be sure to let us know.

Gayle Martin