Williams Sonoma Outlet – 60% Off All Staub Cast Iron Cookware!

Whoo hoo! My cast iron collection is complete! Just bought a Staub 6.25 qt round and 11 inch gratin pan. I am thrilled! (EDIT: my Williams Sonoma receipt states 7qt, but matching the # to the Staub brochure, it states 6.25qt. It’s probably only 6.25 usable, but to fill to the top, it’s 7 qt)

I found out about the HUGE Staub 60% off sale down at the Williams Sonoma outlet store in Wrentham, MA! I debated if I should make the hour long drive down, but I’m so glad I did!

I phoned them first to see if they had any large ovals, and they didn’t, but they did have 6.25 quart round. I decided that the discount was worth the gasoline and time, so I made the trip!

When I arrived, I didn’t realize how large the Wrentham Outlet mall was. Wow! I didn’t really know where to park, so I took a chance and parked by the Banana Republic store. I started walking toward the right and found a directory, and realized that the Williams Sonoma store was at the LEFT end of the mall in the back, toward where I originally parked. That’s good! I wouldn’t have to lug my heavy purchase too far, so I turned back and walked the other way toward the store.

On the directory, I also noticed that the Le Creuset outlet store was very closeby as well, so I took a peek on my way to WS. They were having a 25% discount sale, nothing to match the 60% off, but it was fun to look anyway. I was shocked to see the huge 15 quart pot on display. Wow, I didn’t know they made ’em that huge!

Anyway, back to my Staub purchase.

I had a difficult time deciding what to purchase. Yes, my ultimate dream would have been a large oval pot, and I was debating the 6.25 qt round vs the 4 qt oval chicken roaster (matte black). This roaster is not the same as the Coq Au Vin oven, which would have made an even tougher choice. This pan is shaped like a chicken, with an awkward shaped lid. And since I already have a 4 quart round pot, in the end I decided the 6.25 qt would really be the best.

They also had many gratin pans in many sizes. I decided the medium sized 11 inch should fit nicely in my small counter-top oven for roasting a small chicken or a chicken breast, plus I’d be able to sear on the stove first! I debated the 13 inch covered gratin, but thought it might be too large.

So for a total of $138 (including tax) I bought my dream 6 qt round and the 11 inch gratin. Now I can give away my old “made in China” 6 quart pot! I love Staub! I actually prefer it to Le Creuset! ha! I love the black enameled interior, it’s so easy to clean, and it’s a workhorse! I take care not to use metal utensils in my enameled cast iron. I mostly use wooden.

So, I think my collection is complete!

two 2 (1.75) quart round pots
one 4 quart round pot
one 6 quart round pot
one 11 inch gratin

I think the only other pieces I would consider would be a larger fry pan (not grill pan) but then again, plain ole cast iron would probably be the best for that piece.

And maybe possibly an oval piece, but then again, why? I think I have all the bases covered with the sizes I have. I’m thrilled!

Oh and the sale is until the end of the month, and there were still lots to choose from, many gratin pans, minis, 3 qt ovals, and a few 4 qt oval pots, along with two more 6 quart rounds. They had a bunch of the black chicken roasters too. They also have these cool-looking tall sauce pans, but I think they are more for cool looks, than actually serving a cooking purpose.

And such beautiful colors, too. I love the basil green and the deep blue is stunning. The graphite gray is nice, and the matte black too. My pieces were in the Williams Sonoma exclusive red. It’s a darker red, almost burnt color. Wasn’t my first choice, but for this price, I will NOT complain!

EDIT 2011-07-29: Still haven’t unpacked the BIG pot, but I baked a meatloaf in the 11 inch gratin pan. Very nice pan. I think I’m going to use it a lot!

Wild Alaskan Salmon One Day Sale at Whole Foods

Troll caught wild Alaskan salmon is on sale at Whole Foods Market – one day, Friday for $8.99/pound.

Quoted from Whole Foods:

Coho salmon fillets from a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified fishery are on sale. They’re hand selected by Whole Foods Market’s Alaska port buyer who spends the summer at Alaska’s port openings choosing the freshest salmon to send to our stores—within 48 hours or less of the catch! The blue and white “Certified Sustainable Seafood” MSC seal ensures that the salmon are abundant and come from a well-managed fishery. And, having our own port buyer means that only top-quality salmon that are bright-skinned with a firm texture are chosen.

I love Whole Foods’ one-day-friday sales! I’ll be heading there for sure tomorrow to take advantage. I was concerned about storage, so I spoke to the seafood dept and they said they could certainly wrap it tightly for freezer stockpile. Since Mike doesn’t like much seafood, I am the lone salmon lover/eater.

I feel I should also mention that just because this salmon is MSC certified, doesn’t mean that it’s safe to consume huge portions. We need to remember that no animal product is completely 100% sustainable, especially at the current rate we’re consuming! We can never stop worrying about our seafood supplies, and the only way to keep our future safe is to consume LESS, but spend MORE for higher quality responsibly-caught seafood.

Here are some intriguing recipes from Whole Foods web site. I like the burger recipe, looks like the rating is not to hot, but the recipe comments have suggestions to make it better!

Wild Alaska Salmon and Avocado Salad
Poached Wild Salmon with Skillet Tomatoes
Rosemary-Lime Wild Alaska Salmon Kabobs
Grilled Salmon and Lemons with Herbs
Mini Wild Salmon Cakes

EDIT: The salmon was lovely! Beautiful and fresh! I purchased 2 pounds, and came home and sliced it into 6 individual servings. 5 went into the freezer in freezer bags, and I ate a piece for lunch with some homemade guacamole. Wonderful!

Picked My 1st Tomato

Yay, I picked my first “early girl” tomato this morning. It had turned red a couple of days ago but I kept it on the vine so it could ripen a little more.

We planted 4 tomato plants along with basil and oregano in a small garden. We also tried planting 4 organic sprouted potatoes and I’m curious to see what will become of them later this season!

first tomato from the garden this year

Old Jeans from the 1980’s

Well, since I’m on a nice “high” from my size 8 jeans purchase at LL Bean, I decided to dig out an old pair of high-wasted acid washed jeans from the 80’s. I held them up, and thought no way. They won’t fit, but guess what, they did!

Whoo hoo! I couldn’t believe it. I looked at myself in the mirror, and wow, I still couldn’t believe it. I felt so lean and thin!

Then I tried on an old high-waisted jeans skirt and it fit as well. My DH and I had a good laugh at the same time, because the clothes were soo soo old-fashioned! I mean I remember high waists, but this waist came up almost to my boobs. Well, hmm, could be my boobs are hanging a little lower these days. LOL

I also found a beautiful old embroidered skirt that belonged to my mother when she was a young adult, and that fit fairly well. It was a little too tight in the waist, but I still was thrilled!

I wish I didn’t give away all my clothes from years past. I wonder if I have any more boxes in the attic! I know I had some dresses, pants, blouses, sun dresses, etc. that would probably fit nicely now.

Take Care of Our Bodies

Just received this inspirational quote in my email.

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.

Jim Rohn
American motivational speaker, 20th century

I wish everyone could realize that their bodies are “temples” to be treasured.

We abuse ourselves with processed crap made by big corporations that only care about profits.

We are destroying our earth and we torture animals for the sake of easy food.

It’s very sad really and it overwhelms me because I do not see us ever wanting to fix it.

My 2 Year Anniversary!

Darn! I missed my 2 year anniversary! It was on Wednesday the 20th, I thought it was the 23rd! Oh well. What’s important is I made it though another year.

2 years ago, a friend posted an inspirational quote on her Facebook profile and it profoundly altered my life forever.

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.

I had been thinking of a change to a healthier lifestyle, but every time I tried, it never worked out. I always got side tracked by tempting sugary, processed foods.

When I saw the quote on her wall, it “spoke to me” – I knew it was now or never.

So, here I am! I’ve lost 60+ pounds, and at 137-140 pounds and a size 8 jeans, size medium top, I’ve never been healthier!

I follow the Mark Bittman / Michael Pollan philosophy of eating a higher-quality, but less-quantity of meat, and focusing on more plant-based whole foods.

Although, I do believe it’s absolutely necessary to regularly allow myself a decadent “treat”, I try to stick to healthy whole clean foods: vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, with humanely raised meat, dairy and eggs.

During this time, I’ve learned a lot about myself and my body. Some days were horrible, where insecurities got the better of me. I read a lot of good books, and learned a lot about nutrition, the environment, and how to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.

And I think most importantly, I’ve discovered my limits. I now know that I am a compulsive food eater. I know I won’t cure my compulsion, so I’ve learned how to live with it, and it’s working!

All in all, Life is good! And I’m so grateful!

Size 8!! High School Baby!

We went to the LL Bean Outlet store today and found three pairs of their “favorite cut” jeans on sale and paid $26 for all three! Success!

And the ultimate best best part is that I’m now wearing a size 8! That’s the size I was in high school (I think). Or at least in my 20’s!!!

I’m thrilled since my last jeans purchase were a size 10!

I’m Starving! No, You Really Aren’t!

I just read a forum post on myfitnesspal.com and it really hit home.

To use the term “starving” in relation to your diet, as in “OMG, I’m starving, give me dinner!” is so inappropriate!

Google images for “starving child” and the impact should make you think twice about ever using the term “starving” again!

No, we are not starving. There’s plenty of food in the cupboard and fridge. There’s plenty of food down the street on the grocery store shelves. There’s plenty of food in warehouses and trucks around the country. We are NOT starving, the appropriate word is “hungry”.

Swiss Chard Ricotta Egg Pie (Frittata) Recipe

I found an inspiring recipe over on Kalyn’s Kitchen for ; I had some yummy swiss chard greens from this week’s CSA share, and I knew it would be a great substitution for the kale.

swiss chard ricotta egg pie

Recipe Ingredients

1 large bunch of swiss chard or other hearty greens (kale, spinach, arugula, turnip/radish greens, etc)
8 oz fresh ricotta cheese – I used whole milk ricotta, but to save calories, part skim might be preferred.
1 – 2 oz grated cheese – cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, whatever you have on hand.
1 cup eggs, beaten. I used 5 extra large eggs, but the original recipe called for 6 large
kosher salt & freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Recipe Instructions:

2-4 servings depending on how hungry you are! We turned what was originally thought to be four into just two servings for us.

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Wash swiss chard leaves, pull/cut off ribs, then coarsely chop and quickly steam in a shallow saucepan or fry pan. About 1-3 minutes.
  3. Use a little coconut or olive oil to grease the bottom and sides of a baking dish. I used a large round quiche pan. Kalyn’s original recipe suggested to use a spring form pan. Any type of glass or ceramic baking dish would be fine.
  4. Line bottom of baking dish with steamed swiss chard or greens.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, grated cheese, and salt/pepper.
  6. In separate bowl, beat eggs, then blend into the cheese mixture. It’s lumpy, so don’t be alarmed.
  7. Pour egg/cheese mixture over swiss chard greens in baking dish.
  8. Bake for about 20-40 minutes, maybe longer depending on the depth of your pie. The original recipe called for 40 minutes, but her pie was much thicker.
  9. Allow to cool and enjoy! Serve with a small salad or even veggie soup. Great for Meatless Mondays!

Recipe Notes:

  • Farm fresh ricotta is always the best choice before a grocery brand. It tastes like cream! I like Maplebrook Farms from Vermont…they also make fresh mozzarella cheese.
  • We also received 2 very small corn on the cob in the CSA share this week. I figured instead of boiling them, I’d add some freshly cut corn off the cob. Well, because there was such a small amount, the corn really didn’t add anything special to the dish, so I left it out of my recipe here.
  • I would have loved to add a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg into the cheese mixture, but since my microplane grater/zester had soft cheese all over it, I couldn’t grate the nutmeg. Next time, I’ll grate the nutmeg first.
  • Leeks and tomatoes would also make a great addition! Hmm, like sliced tomatoes placed on top before baking! Yum.

swiss chard ricotta egg pie

Nutritional Data

Use the nutritional data as a guide; the info is not absolute, your results might vary considerably depending on the total weight of the finished dish.

Calories: 456
Fat: 33.6g
Saturated: 17g
Polyunsaturated: 2g
Monounsaturated: 9g
Trans: 0
Cholesterol: 591.7mg
Sodium: 716.7mg
Potassium: 532mg
Total Carbs: 7g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 1.7g
Protein: 33.5g
Vit A: 76%
Vit C: 13%
Calcium: 44.4%
Iron: 20%

Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Imported Shrimp

I found the quote “Friends don’t let friends buy imported shrimp.” on page 30 of the book “Cooking in the Moment – A Year of Seasonal Recipes” by Andrea Reusing. Those words should be an inspiration to us all!

I adore shrimp! I wish I could eat shrimp more often! But US wild-caught shrimp is expensive, so it should be savored and cherished as a special treat!

I have long refused to buy imported shrimp but it looks like I’m in the minority. Shrimp is the most consumed seafood in the US, but since 80-90% of shrimp is imported from Asia and Mexico, it looks like consumers are either not aware of the dangers or just don’t care.

I always knew there were big health and environmental risks with imported (wild and farmed) seafood, but I just read an older article on the subject and it really hit home.

quote from the article:

Properly run shrimp farms yield up to 445 pounds per acre. Food & Water Watch, which has long studied aquaculture, has documented that many foreign shrimp farm operators densely pack their ponds to produce as much as 89,000 pounds of shrimp per acre.

Oh my Lord, can you imagine the pollution, bacteria and illness this causes?

And then the article goes on to state that less than 2% of imported seafood is actually checked and/or analyzed. And what IS checked has been found to be hazardous to our health.

Consumers blindly trust that if it’s allowed to come into our country, then it must be safe. Consumers expect our government to constantly check and re-check products, whether imported or native, but it’s been proven time and time again that it’s not being done!

When will we wake up!? I am doubtful we will.

It’s the American way to demand lower prices, but look what’s happened to the quality of our food! We need to demand better quality food, but not expect to pay rock bottom prices. We need to start paying a little more, and appreciate the quality of the product!

So, please FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS EAT IMPORTED SHRIMP! Support US wild caught shrimp!