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Monday, March 02, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: First Week of Lent

We were able to get about 12 pounds of wild caught seafood this past week at our grocery store for amazing prices, so we changed a few of our meals last week. On Saturday, we grilled salmon and served that with the roasted asparagus and salad. We picked up the salmon, some halibut, bay scallops and razor clams, shucked and cleaned. Since I was already picking up so much fish, I was going to leave the clams if the price was going to be around the same the next week, but the lady said basically that not only was the price too good to last, but the supply was so limited that really if you saw it, you should pick it up. Which I did. This sale was conveniently timed for Lent and came in handy for this week's menu planning, since it is the first full week of Lent. For those of you who are keeping track, this week also has three ember days, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, which are fasting and abstention days for specific intentions such as vocations.

Our dinner on Saturday included pan fried razor clams (I did half flour and half cornstarch), which we all enjoyed. The prices on wild caught seafood this week were astounding, the salmon and bay scallops were $3.99 a pound, for instance, and there were wild caught Oregon bay shrimp for the same price, so we picked up as much as we could and froze all we could. It's a little too early in the season to get fresh from the grocery store (though there is a fish shack near where we pick up our milk that brings in fresh crab, mussels, clams, oysters and all kinds of fish for reasonable prices), but this worked in our favor at this point, since most of it was still frozen and we could just put it in our freezer. This good fish will be tasty and a great source of protein, good fats and all those omega 3s and 6s that people talk about. All without flax seed and its false estrogens.

Between our high in omega fats eggs, grass fed beef and milk, we are doing pretty well with the good fats, I think. We also bought into half a pastured hog, a duroc and berkshire cross, that will be butchered in a little over a month and fill our freezer nicely. I'm planning on leaving the rear leg fresh, rather than curing and smoking it for a ham, so we can have a fresh roast leg of pork. We will definitely be curing and smoking some bacon, though. We're going to have them give us all the extra parts and fat and I will render the fat into fresh lard. I'm trying to decide how we'll have the butcher do the rest of the cuts, but I will be bringing our spices and herbs to grind sausage on their machinery, which will save us a lot of time. Eating out of our freezer is not only saving us money, but making room for all this meat (and maybe the steer we've been talking about getting for a couple years).

My sweet Rich made dinner two nights in a row, as I was just bone weary from school and sleepless nights (Yasmina finally cut her first tooth on Thursday - the latest of all our children - and her second came in Sunday night). If you count grilling the salmon, it was three nights in a row, though one of them he represented leftovers for the children. He was able to spend almost all of Saturday turning over the soil in our garden, as we are getting ready for a bigger vegetable and fruit planting this year, then came up to the house and cooked up our dinner. This week, we'll be using some of our fish haul, and extending the ham we ate on Sunday into two other meals.
If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can.
What is on your menu this week?

I'm also participating in the Fridge and Pantry Cleanout So, I will list the things that I am using in this week's menu that were not bought for the week. Anything that was bought in the last month, especially if they were bought for a particular meal, will not count in my reckoning. This accounting is just from our dinners, it would include more if I counted lunch and breakfast.

Things from our freezer:
Green Beans

Things from the fridge:
Butter (originally from the freezer)
Ham (leftover and originally from our freezer)

All Dried Herbs & Spices
All Purpose Flour
Whole Wheat Flour
Yellow Eye Beans
Cous Cous
Elbow Macaroni
Canned Tomatoes
Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Sesame Oil
Oyster Sauce
Soy Sauce
Water Chestnuts
Sesame Seeds
White Wine

Which means that for the dinners this week, we bought the halibut, the olives and artichoke hearts, milk, cashews, some fresh herbs that we didn't have still growing, the frozen eggplant and zucchini and fresh vegetables and fruit. I am still trying to use mostly what we have at home, both to move through what we already have stored and to cut down on our food budget.

Pineapple Fried Rice
Inspired by the dish served at either Kuraya's or Mekala's. The one not in 5th Street Market.

4 tablespoons oil (I use coconut oil)
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
sliced peppers
meat of choice, in small bites (optional)
1 can water chestnuts, drained & sliced
4-5 cups cooked rice
2 cups pineapple tidbits, drained if you have canned, thawed if you have a bag, or just cut up fresh
4 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons sesame oil
sesame seeds
chopped cashews
1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonaded

Heat pan on medium-high to high, put oil in and add onion & garlic. Saute a few minutes, until transparent, add peppers. Toss in the meat (however much you have), the water chestnuts and cook a minute or two (you may need to add more oil at this point).

Add rice and stir fry a few minutes more. Toss in chopped scallions, peas, if you have them (frozen works fine) and the pineapple. Toss to heat a bit.

Scoot everything to the side and fry up the scrambled egg, mix it in with the rest. Drizzle the top of the rice with the soy sauce, oyster sauce, curry and mix up over the heat. Take off heat and toss in the sesame seeds, basil and cashews. Serve hot with Sri Racha on the side if you like that.

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Great blog!! I can't wait to explore it more!

This looks like a great cleanout! Awesome job! Thanks so much for participating.

A blessed clean week to you all!

Organic & Thrifty
Hi Ranee,

Don't know if you remember me from your alt.newlywed days, but I've been following your blog for some time now.

I'd love the recipes for the pineapple fried rice and the wicked shrimp.
I probably do remember you, but I don't remember your screen name. E-mail me if you want to remind me of your actual name.

I will post the wicked shrimp soon, it isn't right near me at the moment, and I need to run, but I can describe basically how I make the pineapple fried rice. I was looking to recreate something I used to eat at a Thai restaurant when I lived in Eugene, and this is pretty close to what I remember.
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