Thursday, May 8, 2014

Summertime, and the Grillin' is Easy--weekly specials with Mary Anne's nearly summer, and grilling is easy for some of us. Read on for the full story...

Nothing much on sale this week worth talking about except produce, and there are a few good buys there.

The only good sale on meat is at IGA in Bedford and Ellettsville, through Sunday the 11th. They have some of their meat on sale in ten pound packages. The only one I’m interested in is their chicken leg quarters, ten pounds for $5.00, or 50 cents a pound. A few other things that I’ll mention because they fit in with my theme for the week – Kraft barbeque sauces, 99 cents for an 18 ounce bottle; sweet Vidalia onions, a three pound bag for $2.89 cents (96 cents a pound) or 99 cents a pound if you buy them individually; and sixteen ounce bottles of A-1 marinades, two for $4.00, or $2.00 each. I don’t know that these are good prices, but they’re “sale” prices on things that fit this week’s subject.

Marsh has sweet corn again, ten ears for $3.00, or 30 cents an ear. Strawberries are $5.00 for three one pound packages, or $1.67 a pound. Or you can buy a case of eight one pound packages for $12.99, or $1.62 a pound, which is a nickel less a pound.

Kroger has asparagus for $1.99 a pound. Sweet potatoes, red potatoes and green beans are all 99 cents a pound. Sweet corn is ten ears for $3.00, the same as at Marsh.

Aldi has pineapples for 89 cents each. Mangos are 39 cents each, and strawberries are $1.49 for a one pound package. If you’re into gluten-free, Aldi has a bunch of things now.

That’s all that’s on sale that I’m interested in.

And so, it’s chicken legs again. IGA has them in a ten pound bag for $5.00, or 50 cents a pound. That’s more than 25% off Walmart’s regular price of 69 cents a pound for a ten pound bag, which is also the lowest sale price I remember seeing in quite a while. At that price you can hardly not get them.

I checked the forecast at (on Tuesday, when I started putting this together) and it said that the highs for the next ten days would be in the 70s and 80s. That qualifies as summer, as far as I’m concerned! Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. At any rate, let’s try some summer recipes. Like grilling and appropriate side dishes.

I don’t grill. Don’t laugh, but I finally gave up when I not only couldn’t get the flame on the gas grill to light, I couldn’t even get the lighter to light! So any recipes that call for cooking on a grill come strictly from books and the web. I was going to give basic directions for cooking chicken, but after looking at several recipes I decided I didn’t know what I was talking about. All I’m going to say is that grilled chicken can end up underdone and that’s not good. Ending up overdone and dried out isn’t good either, but at least it’s less likely to make you sick. What I will give you, though, are some recipes that look good and that got good reviews. Again, I haven’t cooked them because I can’t get a grill lighted. But the recipes look good anyway. You’re on your own when it comes to knowing how to cook it.

  1. Be sure your chicken is done when you eat it.
  2. There are two different opinions when it comes to washing the chicken before cooking it. The old school says it should be washed. (Mom knew someone who used soap, but most people just rinse it under running water.) I won’t get into why it should be rinsed. If you’ve seen documentaries about chicken processing plants you’ll know why, and if you haven’t, you don’t want to know why. The new school says you should not rinse it because when you do the germs and all splatter all over the kitchen. Take your pick.
  3. Whether you wash/rinse the chicken or not, be sure to dry it with paper towels. (Yes, I know that there are environmental impacts from using paper towels, but you don’t want to get use cloth towels or rags because then you have those nasty chicken germs that you have to deal with. Use cloth for most things if you want to, but honest, it is better to use paper towels for raw chicken). The reason for drying the chicken is that the skin comes out crispier. If the chicken isn’t dry, then the skin steams a bit and that makes for flabbier skin.
  4. Don’t serve marinade unless it’s been cooked after marinating the chicken. And don’t serve sauce in which you’ve dipped the brush you use to brush on the sauce. If you want to serve the extra sauce, reserve some sauce for that purpose and don’t dip the brush in it.
A chicken leg quarter generally weighs about a pound, so at ten pounds for $5.00, that’s 50 cents per leg quarter. Let’s say 25 cents per leg for the seasoning, though 5 cents will probably cover the cost of all but maybe the sauces. So that’s 75 cents per serving. I’ll use that in costing the menus with the various side dishes.

Just sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, or maybe add some garlic powder. Or use a commercial grilled chicken seasoning mix.

Don’t season the chicken. Instead, slather your favorite commercial BBQ sauce on it for the last five minutes or so of cooking. Or teriyaki sauce or whatever kind of sauce you like. Or brush the chicken with the sauce every few minutes. Some recipes and experts say one thing, others say the other. That’s why I’m not giving directions on how to grill the chicken.

     Greek Grilled Chicken
     Italian Grilled Chicken
     Cornell Chicken Barbeque Sauce (State Fair Chicken)
     Balsamic BBQ Sauce
     Better BBQ Chicken Sauce

And now for some side dishes to go with the chicken. How about COLESLAW, CORN ON THE COB, GRILLED PINEAPPLE, and/or MANGO SALSA? When it’s really summer we can use that wonderful produce from the Farmers Market. And don’t forget that you can basically get it for half price if you have Food Stamps! Just change your food stamps for Market Bucks and get $2 of Market Bucks for every $1 of Food Stamps.

You probably have your own favorite recipe for coleslaw, but here are a couple of recipes you can try if you want a change.

First a basic COLESLAW from Dana Carpender, then a variation. This will make LOTS! Figure about four cups of shredded cabbage per pound, so a three pound head would make about twelve cups. You might want to make just half a batch, though leftover coleslaw is usually still good the next day. Assuming a three pound head of cabbage, a whole batch will run about $2.40, or 20 cents per roughly one cup serving. If your servings are bigger, and you only get eight servings of a cup and a half, they’ll run about 30 cents each. But I think a cup is probably enough for most people.

For an incredibly colorful salad, try her COLESLAW FOR COMPANY, which uses red cabbage instead of the regular green cabbage and adds a shredded carrot. Red cabbage usually cost more – like up to twice as much - plus there’s the cost of the carrot, so figure between ten and fifteen cents more per serving.

Laurel’s Kitchen gives a very basic recipe for LAUREL’S COLESLAW, with lots of variations. In fact, if I’ve done my math right (and it’s been a long time), there are over 600 possible variations, based on the optional ingredients! The basic coleslaw costs about the same as Dana’s recipe – roughly 20 cents per serving, assuming a pound and a half of cabbage and six servings. If you make it four bigger servings, they’ll be about 30 cents each. You’ll have to figure your own cost if you add anything.

GRILLED PINEAPPLE is really easy - just brush slices of canned pineapple with Heinz 57 Steak Sauce. If you get four servings from a can of sliced pineapple, it should run you about 25 cents per serving, or about a dollar for four.

When I told a friend that pineapples and mangos were both on sale and at great prices, she said “Salsa time!” so here’s a recipe for MANGO SALSAThe mango is 39 cents, but I don’t know about the rest, most of which I don’t buy. Let’s call it a dollar, ok, or 25 cents a serving? That’s probably high, though.

Okay, so we’ve got recipes for the chicken and for the sides. Let’s see what we can do to put them together into menus. Just a reminder – we’re figuring 75 cents apiece for the chicken leg quarters, 20 cents a serving for the coleslaw (30 cents if we go with Coleslaw for Company red cabbage version), and 25 cents per serving for the Grilled Pineapple and the Mango Salsa. We’ve also got fresh pineapple for 89 cents each, mangos for 39 cents each, strawberries for $1.49 a pound, and corn on the cob for 30 cents an ear. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

MENU #1 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and grilled pineapple
MENU #2 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and mango salsa
MENU #3 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and fresh pineapple
MENU #4 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, and a pineapple/strawberry salad
MENU #5 – grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and a pineapple/strawberry salad
MENU #6 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob and a pineapple/mango salad (add a bit of lime juice to it, and maybe some cilantro)
MENU #7 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, and fresh strawberries sprinkled with balsamic vinegar
MENU #8 – grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and fresh strawberries sprinkled with balsamic vinegar (or sprinkled with sugar if you prefer, or just plain, but balsamic vinegar adds a special flair)

Well, you get the picture. Everything is so cheap that there are lots of variations that are delicious, cheap (under $1.50 per serving), with generous portions. You could even splurge and have some ice cream under the strawberries without breaking the bank!

I’m sure there will be more barbeque and picnic recipes and menus as the seasons progress, but here’s a good start. It’s 84 degrees as I finish this Wednesday afternoon, and picnic-type meals sound even better than they did yesterday!

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