Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines Day Dinner and more

With the economy the way it is, I've been trying to be more frugal and to waste less. We already recycle everything we possibly can, and all food waste goes to either the compost or the chickens. (Chickens are remarkable garbage disposals - they could almost put a pig to shame.) Now, I'm trying to find other ways to stretch our food. A while back I bought an overpriced watermelon for my youngest daughter. It's hard to say no when they ask for healthy foods. I had some kind of "oh yeah" moment when I recalled seeing pickled watermelon rinds in a store when I was a child. I thought, "hmmm. Why not? I'll give it a shot and pickle the rind and not waste it." I haven't been brave enough to try the end results yet, but here is the one jar I managed to pickle.

Looks yummy. I'll let you know when I try it if it was worth the effort.

The other thing I've been doing is buying whole chickens instead of the pieces. It's so much cheaper. I roasted one the other night and it came out perfect along with mashed sweet potatoes (using up left overs) and green beans. Of course we had plenty of leftovers from the chicken, so I used the meat to make enchiladas and I'll be making stock with the carcass.
I was lazy and used canned enchilada sauce, which made this an easy way to use up the chicken.
I sauted half and onion and a couple cloves of garlic with the chicken meat I pulled off the carcass and added some red enchilada sauce. I heated up the rest of the sauce and dipped each corn tortilla in it to make them pliable then placed about a 1/4 cup of chicken in each on and topped it with shredded jack cheese. I rolled them, topped them with the remaining sauce and more shredded cheese and baked in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. They came out great.
So, with all of this frugal food prep, we were able to afford going out to a nice Valentines Dinner with our girls. I know, not so romantic with the kids along, but it was a nice dinner. We went to Hurricane Kate's for dinner.

Unfortunately we got an inexperienced waitress, but fortunately for her, we're experienced diners and helped her along. The kitchen staff was spot on as usual. John and I started our meal with cocktails. He had a mojito and I had something called Bloody Refresher. Sounds awful, but if you like bloody mary's and martini's you'll like this. The nice thing about Hurricane Kates is that they give everyone crayons, whether you have kids or not, and you can draw on the butcher paper table cloths. They also have a good kids menu. My youngest had a grilled cheese sandwich and fresh fruit, which she devoured. My oldest had a personal cheese pizza which looked awesome! We ordered a starter called "The Holy War" which is a plate of "Angels" (bacon wrapped scallops) and Demons (bacon wrapped chicken livers). They were so good, even the girls enjoyed them. I must get one of those cheap buckets of chicken livers and start making my own at home! Then John had their hot and sour soup, which was apparently good from the vacuum sound I heard from across the table as he inhaled it. I ordered a Shafts blue cheese and asian pear salad. I was expecting their normally small salads, but was surprised to get a huge salad. It was delicious and my husband was lucky enough to get his salad fix for the day since it was too much for me to finish with a full meal coming. Next John had the Grilled Cumin Spice Rubbed New York Steak - with Tomatillo Salsa Verda, Cuban Spiced Black Beans, Red Annatto Rice, and Grilled Peppers. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare. I was lucky enough to get a bite. I had one of the specials of the evening. Bacon encrusted steehlead served in a clam chowder sauce. The sauce was more like a butter, white wine sauce with 4 perfectly cooked butter clams cooked in it. I wish I could learn how to cook fish as perfectly as that steelhead was cooked. Steelhead is a far milder fish then salmon, and the bacon made a nice salty and crunchy contrast to the buttery milk texture of the fish. Mixed in the clam chowder sauce was wilted spinach and fresh corn, and the fish was placed on top of 4 potato croquettes, which I could have made a meal of alone. I woke up wishing had had some to eat for breakfast. They were barely fried and crunchy on the outside and creamy and smooth on the inside. I'm drooling thinking about them. All together a great dinner.

Then to top the evening off we went to a great place that has been in Eureka's old town for years and years. Bonbonniere Ice Cream shop. It's in an old victorian era store constructed of brick (not a place to be in an earthquake, but hey! If you're going to die, you might as well be eating the best ice cream in Humboldt County while you do it) and got the youngest a cotton candy ice cream cone and my oldest some homemade fudge. I almost got some of their locally made green tea ice cream, but decided I wasn't up for a stomach rupture and just had a double espresso with my husband. The kids were happily sleepy and ready for bed when we got home, and John and I got to enjoy a good movie by ourselves and finish off our Valentines Day romantically quiet.
Hope everyone else had a nice Valentines Day. Next holiday up......Mardis Gras!

1 comment:

Cheri Watt said...

mmmm...makes me hungry just reading your blog! You will have to let me know how the pickled watermelon rinds taste. Sounds interesting...Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day to you and your family! We really should get together some time soon!