Good Mews for Little Poopers

30 10 2008

Last month we got a new kitten, Dax, after becoming abruptly catless back in July. He’s been settling in nicely, but we did need to quick pick up some litter after a week or so. Kale pretty much used the great outdoors, but our new little guy isn’t ready for that sort of responsibility yet.

While running our errands, we popped into our favorite pet store Walker’s Healthy Pet and picked up some kitten chow (First Mate) and more of the usual litter. Once we got home and I was looking over the receipts, I saw that we’d just paid about $1/lb. for something to crap in! What?! Usually we get it at Skagit Farmer’s Supply and I recalled it costing about $6 per bag.

With the current distressing changes in the economy, not to mention our budget, this was not a reasonable use of our pennies. Since I didn’t want to open the bag, we played around with sand from the beach. This had marginal success. Dax liked it just fine, but it was heavy in the box and didn’t absorb any odors.

The next time we were driving around, we stopped in at Whatcom Farmer’s Supply up on the Guide to have a look. There was our usual cat litter at a more reasonable $8, but the price still had risen from last winter or whenever I’d purchased my last bag. So there we were, staring at an assortment of overpriced pelletized litters and unsuitable clumping (bad for kitty lungs) or clay (high mileage rocks, bad for septics) litters.

Oh, but what have we here? Crown Animal Bedding in the “small” 25 lb. bag for $8.66. Some pets would rather sleep on it, but they had me at “absorbs ammonia odor” and “biodegradable”. Canby, Oregon? OK!

At home, we pour it out and I realize that I recognize it. A little research and I discover that it is, in fact, made by the same folks that make Good Mews cat litter. It’s pelletized from recycled newsprint so, until the last newspaper is replaced by web-only news delivery, it should be available.

Dax christened the new litter kitten-approved!

Next time we’ll pick up the 40 lb. bag for $11.49. I’ll update here when I see where it is carried locally. I assume Skagit Farmers Supply will have it, just not by the cat litter. Good Mews is widely available in grocery stores and SFS.


There’s no free lunch, but …

14 10 2008

… breakfast can be pretty cheap!

We’ve been eating oatmeal every weekday morning for a year or two since it’s quick, easy, healthy, variable and inexpensive. It’s not exciting, but I can manage to muster up dog food and people food while waiting for coffee instead of the other way around. Also, while it’s technically the same breakfast every morning, it’s really quite different depending on whether it’s walnut blueberry, peach cardamom, almond date, or apple cinnamon.

Since I refilled my oatmeal supply yesterday, I thought I’d examine more closely the cost of breakfast. For a long time, I’d buy Bob’s Red Mill extra thick cut oats (organic) from the bulk section at the co-op. They’re a pretty good deal at something like a dollar per pound. Whenever we’d get down to the mill store in Milwaukie, I’d grab a 25 pound bag. Recently I discovered that Cash and Carry in Bellingham carries Bob’s oats in 25 pound bags as well. Unfortunately they don’t have the organic, but at least they have the thick cut and $14.28 seemed like a good deal to me.

Not too far from the oats, I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before: a 50 pound sack of raw sugar! I tend to get raw sugar as a bit of a splurge and set it out for company coffee since it’s fairly pricey so our “house sugar” has been Wholesome Sweeteners organic cane sugar which I buy from Costco for $7.99 for a 10 pound bag. I also get regular C&H brown sugar which is $2.79 for a 2 pound bag. Well, $34.68 is a bit to spend on sugar all at once, but it can be used instead of both of the others and at 69¢ per pound is a pretty good deal. No, it’s not organic and it will color some of the paler foods, but I can compromise a bit. In fact, the budget dictates pretty much that I have to! At least it’s less processed than both white and brown sugars, simplifies my pantry, and gives me one giant recyclable paper sack instead of many smaller plastic packages.

How do I store these giant sacks of oats and sugar? Right next to the giant sack of flour in my office closet! It’s a cool, dry and dark location and relatively handy to the kitchen. I keep my flours in large Rubbermaid tubs and will most likely get another for the sugar once I open the bag. It helps keep the mess down and provides some protection.

Oh yeah, back to breakfast.

I generally make two servings because there’s two of us, but I did the math for one serving so it can be easily multiplied for each family situation.

3 ounces (3/4 cup) oatmeal = 10¢

1/2 tablespoon butter = 3¢ *

1 ounce frozen blueberries = 12¢

1/2 ounce walnuts = 15¢

1/2 ounce sugar = 2¢

So apparently, besides being the answer to life and everything, 42 cents is the price of a healthy oatmeal breakfast! Of course, the price varies depending on add-ins, but you get the idea. It’s unlikely that any pouch of instant oatmeal would provide so much whole food nutrition for that price. Besides the options mentioned above, I will also often substitute 1/4 cup of oatmeal with 1/4 cup of kasha in a 2 serving batch. I like the nuttiness that the buckwheat imparts and it raises the protein level as well. By switching up fresh and dried fruits, different types of nuts, and different spices, it seems like the variations are limitless. At least limitless enough to not need to have the same thing every morning.

Then there’s oatmeal cookies …

* Butter purchased at Costco $8.49 for 4 pounds (this went up $1 in a month!), 3 pound Kirkland walnuts for $14 and change purchased last spring, and U-pick organic blueberries at $2/pound

On the Road Again

30 11 2007

Over the river and thru the wood to grandfather’s house we go … (full lyrics)

Not really, we’re actually headed down to Portland for a friend’s 50th birthday celebration this weekend. Does this mean that eating local is out the window while we’re on the road? Absolutely not! Portland is a wonderful food town with many restaurants that source locally. Won’t be a problem. See Foodshed PDX for some suggestions when headed that way.

Meanwhile there’s a lot of highway between Concrete and Portland. We’re likely to get a little hungry between here and there, but since we’re heading out on a Friday we’re already dealing with a lot of logistics just getting through Everett-Olympia without using I-5 as a parking lot. What to do? Pit-stopping in Seattle might be delicious, but it would take too much time since I have a long shopping list for Bob’s Red Mill to take care of before the party. This means we’ll need some ‘short duration’ food.

BurgerVille logo

No MickeyD’s or BK scary meat for us, we have BurgerVille! Perhaps you haven’t heard of this small chain, but next time you’re in southwest Washington or northwest Oregon, give them a visit. They have delicious Oregon Country Beef burgers with Tillamook cheddar. Can you beat that? Maybe with a Wild Coho Smoked Salmon & Hazelnut Salad for $5.29? 🙂

While you’re waiting to go there in person, click through to BV’s News & Events page and watch the online version of Nightline. There’s a short piece on fast food in general and an interview with Eric Schlosser who authored Fast Food Nation. If BurgerVille is good enough for Eric Schlosser, it’s good enough for me! The Walla Walla onion rings and blackberry shakes are to die for, but you have to wait until summer. Meanwhile it’s sweet potato fries season and I just got a free coupon. Time to hit the road!


9 11 2007

Well, the week started out with another food that made it into nearly every meal. This week’s featured vegetable was Red Kuri squash! Actually since I grew it myself from seed taken from a squash acquired at the co-op, it was yellow for some reason. I don’t think it crossed with anything since Red Kuri is cucurbita maxima and the others in the garden this year were Delicata c. pepo and Ronde de Nice zucchini c. pepo, neither of which are yellow. Either way, it was still delicious and huge.

Pumpkin waffles

The first thing I did was make pumpkin waffles! There are some verboten pecans in the batter, but the flour was Fairhaven Mills whole wheat pastry flour which is grown in Washington. The eggs were from our friends who live 7 miles down the road and the buttermilk was from Golden Glen Creamery. I did toss in some Nancy’s yogurt which is made at the Springfield Creamery in Eugene, Oregon. Alongside was apple syrup made at Minea Farm in Redmond. Just an aside, pecans, chestnuts and walnuts from Cascade Walnut in Loomis, Wa are available at the co-op! (I plan on doing a post about nuts soon so I’ll not reveal everything just yet.)

Then we had pumpkin soup for a few lunches and dinners. I did some curried and some without. No pictures, you know what pumpkin soup looks like!

Pumpkin muffins

Keith was really in heaven this week since, along with rhubarb, pumpkin is one of his favorites. I made some pumpkin muffins with Dorie Greenspan’s recipe from the book Baking: From My Home to Yours. There are raisins and whatnots in there, but the squash and flour were local.

cooked emmer

I was trying to focus more on breakfast this week, so I cooked up some emmer from Bluebird Grain Farms in Winthrop. I had picked this up while in Twisp earlier this fall. I sweetened this with Jackman Creek honey which comes from bees just a few miles Upriver. The hives aren’t moved around so this honey is truly local! Alternatively I could have used some maple honey that I picked up from Tenneson Family Farm down in Sedro. Aah, decisions! 😉

Root veg gratin

Finally, I made some root vegetable gratin from some CSA and some of my own potatoes, parsnips grown somewhere in the valley (I’ll have to start taking notes when I shop since the farmer is often noted on the store signage), sweet potatoes from California and some Jarlsberg from Ohio?! Oops!

Since I’m focusing on making sure that the pantry and freezer stocks are rotated this coming week, I’m not sure that I’ll be doing so well. Tonight is the last of the squash that I didn’t freeze and some vintage red beans in a modified Cuban black bean soup. Finally!

Pardon the mess

28 08 2007

Partially because of a disappointment with my web host and partially because Portland, OR is closer than Trumbull, CT, I am in the process of moving everything over to a new site called ThinkHost, Inc.

“Green web hosting powered by renewable wind and solar energy. Your carbon neutral account supports a more earth friendly future.”

So, please be patient while the new site propagates. The blog is on WordPress so the text will not be affected, but my photos are on my site so they may be temporarily unavailable. Once things get switched over, I’ll have more room to post higher resolution photos so that will be nice.