Friday, January 17, 2014

Pork Chops and the Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

IGA has iceberg lettuce for 99 cents a head. Honeysuckle 93% lean fresh ground turkey is $2.99 for a 1.2 pound package, or $2.50 a pound. Country style spare ribs are $1.99 a pound. The ad says that Pilgrim’s whole cut-up fryers are $1.59 each, which would be a fabulous price! Unfortunately, the ad is wrong – it should be $1.59 per pound, which isn’t a good deal at all. Canned beans (the picture shows chili beans) and black-eyed peas are 79 cents a can. “Slicing tomatoes” are $1.59 a pound.

Marsh has family pack “assorted pork chops” for $1.29 a pound, or smaller packs for $1.69 a pound. Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts are $1.29 a pound in the family pack or $1.49 in smaller size packs. Brown mustard is 10 for $10, or $1.00 each for 10 ounces. Red, orange and yellow bell peppers are also 10 for $10, or $1.00 each. Cukes and green peppers are 88 cents each, and iceberg lettuce is 99 cents a head. Sweet potatoes are 79 cents a pound. Country style spare ribs are $1.99 a pound and pork sirloin roast is $1.69 a pound.

At Aldi, a 2-pound bag of carrots is just 89 cents. Mushrooms are 99 cents for an 8 ounce package. Pineapple are still 99 cents each, and grapefruit are 39 cents each. Frozen peas and corn are both 95 cents for a 1-pound bag. A heads up about Aldi – they had great prices on dairy (butter, eggs and cheese in particular) during November and December, but the prices have shot back up to where they were before the holiday season sales. Still ok prices, just not nearly as good as they had been.

Kroger has large eggs 4 dozen for $5.00, or $1.25 per dozen. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are $1.99 a pound. And sour cream is 10 for $10.00, or $1.00 a pint.

Not a very inspiring bunch of specials, is it? Actually, $1.29 a pound for pork chops is a pretty good price, so I’ll go with that. By the way, I haven’t been to the stores to check on prices since early December, so my costs may not be current. I had planned to go Thursday, but after slipping and sliding on the roads in the morning, and hearing that there would be more snow, I decided against it. The sale prices are from the ads, so they should be right, and the other costs should be close, at least.

I like cookbooks. I like reading them and using them and collecting them. I almost always go to the last day of the public library’s book sales and the last day of the Red Cross book sales. Books are free those days. In fact, they want people to take them so they don’t have to get rid of them. I usually bring home several boxes of cookbooks. All kinds of cookbooks. I copy out the recipes that look good, and then take them to the next book sale in hopes that someone will buy them. I don’t keep very many of the cookbooks I find anymore, but then I’ve got over 20 linear feet of them already. And that’s after I gave away several boxes of them! And I’ve got close to 300 cookbooks saved to my Kindle. Did I say that I like cookbooks? 

Anyway, this first recipe is from a tiny little cookbook that I got at one of those book sales. Probably the Red Cross sale last fall. I don’t know why I picked it up, but I did. There’s only one recipe in it that sounded good to me, for STEAMED PORK CHOPS, and here it is. It’s A Little Bahamian Cookbook, by Rosamund Lambert, by the way, published in 1990 in the Bahamas. Assuming that the pork chops weigh about half a pound each, this should cost about $4.20 for four servings, or $1.05 per serving. I think I would get a box of the mushrooms from Aldi, slice them up, and add them along with the other vegetables. That would bring the cost to about $5.20 and you wouldn’t need to add another vegetable. Half a head of lettuce, for 50 cents, and some salad dressing, would round out the meal and keep it to a bit less than $6.00 for four servings, or about $1.50 per serving.

This next recipe, PORK CHOPS BAKES WITH CABBAGE AND CREAM (and yes, I think that’s really the name of the dish, though it doesn’t sound right), calls for boneless pork chops that are 3/4” thick. The ones that are on sale aren’t boneless and are probably going to be closer to 1/2 thick. I wouldn’t worry about either one. The bones won’t hurt anything, and other than maybe cooking a bit quicker, the fact that they’re thinner won’t hurt, either. This is a full meal in itself, so you could just call it good at $4.40 for four servings, or $1.10 per serving. It’s going to be pretty blah looking, though, so you might want to cook up some carrots to serve with it. A pound of carrots, for 45 cents, and a whole pineapple for dessert at 99 cents, and you’ve got a huge meal for less than $1.50 per serving.

This next recipe, MAPLE MUSTARD BAKED CHICKEN THIGHS, is, obviously, a recipe for chicken rather than pork chops. But it’s very good and both maple syrup and mustard go well with pork, so I’m going to include it. Just substitute four pork chops for the chicken. You could brown the pork chops first, if you wanted, but I probably wouldn’t. The sauce is flavorful enough that you shouldn’t even notice that the chops weren’t browned. I don’t know where I got the recipe, but maple mustard chicken recipes are all over the internet.

Assuming that you’re using two pounds of pork chops instead of the chicken, this will cost less than $4.00. How much less, I don’t know, because I don’t know how much the maple syrup will cost. The sauce is really good over broccoli, and you can add two pounds of frozen broccoli from Walmart and keep it right about $6.00 total, or about $1.50 per serving. At least you could the last time I checked. The price of broccoli may have gone up since then.

Did you know that you can make your own MAPLE SYRUP? That's what I grew up with. Just combine twice as much sugar as water (so maybe two cups of sugar and one cup of water) in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil, and boil it until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear. Then add half a teaspoon or so of Mapleine (an imitation maple extract – you should be able to find it with the vanilla and other extracts and flavorings) and stir it well. It tastes very much like maple syrup for a fraction of the cost. You can use brown sugar instead, without the Mapleine, which I think I liked better. Or sometimes we made it with white sugar and no Mapleine, and it was still good over pancakes and French toast and so forth.

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