Eating Steak on the Cheap

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

The flavor and aroma of a nice, juicy steak is hard to beat. The problem is that steak is usually cost prohibitive. It is a safe bet that a lot of people would love to be able to eat steak once in a while, but may not be able to afford many dollars per pound to purchase it. A person can save money on steak, though.

Traditional method

It is normally less expensive per pound to buy meat by the quarter or half, meaning a quarter or a half of the animal, and then to cut it up at home. While this will often save substantial money, for many people this isn’t an option because of the initial expense, effort and lack of storage space, however. Still, this method is worth some thought. If the price of cheap steaks is over $4 a pound and a hundred pound quarter costs $2 a pound, it would cost less than half as much, though the initial outlay of money would be much greater because a hundred pounds of meat are being purchased.

Meat on special

Meat is also sometimes on special, either at a store or a butcher shop. It pays off to buy the meat when it has been discounted, freezing any excess for later use. Again, this assumes that there will be space for the extra meat and it ignores the fact that the special prices are often because the meat isn’t high quality and might be tough. 

Boneless roast

Using a roast can be the best way of all. It isn’t uncommon for roasts to also be on special, especially if they weigh five pounds or more. Even if they aren’t on special, the roast is usually less expensive than steak. Using a roast has additional benefits, as well. The meat tends to be more tender than cheap cuts of steak and a person can cut it, against the grain, to the desired thickness. If the roast is indeed on special, even a small freezer is normally large enough to handle any excess.

As an example, in a small town in Montana, the main store often sells beef round steak for just under $5 per pound. Top sirloin steak is often over $7.50 per pound. A boneless sirloin roast normally sells for a little less than $3 a pound, with occasional specials that are closer to $2 per pound. This means that the equivalent of top sirloin steaks cost much less than half the cost of the actual steaks, and a five pound roast can be cut into 5-10 steaks. 

There are ways to save money on steak, without sacrificing flavor or quality. If a person chooses to use a bone-in roast, the cost can be even less, though the bone normally will need to be cut. In any event, a person can buy in bulk, they can purchase the meat when it is on special or they can cut their own perfectly good steaks out of a roast. The savings are often substantial, allowing a person on a low or set income to still delight in a treat of steak once in a while.

The Unrefined Flavor of Muscovado Raw Sugar

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

The three sweetened victims of the fact of the case were muscovado sugar, together with the more anemic looking turbinado and Demerara types. Putting raw sugar like an angry timberwolf center attacking a growing village of ice hockey goalies, Reader’s Digest Canada slams the facts of the matter down to so many words: “…[Y]ou wouldn’t want to buy [raw sugar] since it contains yeast, mold, bacteria, dirt, bug parts, and other undesirable stuff.” Meanwhile, the value of sugarcane crops in the state of Florida exceeds that of all the agricultural corn, soybean, peanut and tobacco operations in the state, combined tax and all.

Anything that sweet can be easy to swallow.

Muscovado originated out of the early plantations of the tropical Americas. Produced in varieties dark or light, this sugar cane juice product gets a respectable bill of health from its devotees, brandishing a full slate of vitamins the equal of wheat grass juice. Vitamin A, four B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and phytonutrients make up this natural balance of nutrition and avoiding the wild chemical processing used to produce the white. As a sugar — specifically, a brown sugar — expect its flavor to run chiefly as that of molasses accented with something of a smoky taste.


A well-proportioned regard for muscovado can take into account its centuries-old production. Following are some samples and key notes in the history of sugar production in the New World and some details of how the muscovado was produced.

In the South America, production began on Brazilian coasts around Bahia and Pernambuco in 1516. Commercial production followed in 1550 once mills had been constructed by Portuguese land grant recipient sharecroppers.  By 1660, production favored Barbados and the West Indies, and by 1700 Barbados and Guadalupe were poised with a paramount supply and capacity to deliver the best price due to closer proximity to Europe, certain trade monopolies, and slavery. However, by the mid-18th century, slavery was a factor involving the Dutch East India Company and its seizure of Pernambuco from the Portuguese.

In North America, colonial Jamestown couldn’t produce the crop effectively as of 1619. Production was perhaps discouraged by this failure, as not until 1758 was the first sugar mill established on the Mississippi River in New Orleans, on a plantation. But sugar as a crop was not planted until 1771 by Jesuit missionaries without success, and not until 1841 did sugar production boom in Louisiana under John Randolph, becoming the largest production center in North America with lesser rivals in some southern states spanning from Florida to Texas and up to Missouri. The Civil War decimated sugar production and soon Hawaii and Cuba were to scuttle any effective competition from continental America.

But for the cause of sugar in Cuba, slavery ended there in 1886 while the American continent went on to buy 82% of the free island’s annual crop. Its arrival by import was in the form of muscovado sugar lumps that hit the grinder at grocers, granulated with a portable type of mill.

Brazillians made sugar only out of sugar cane that had been produced from a second boiling. A dark molasses from the first boiling was referred to as“muscovado macho,” and not preferred. The lighter molasses from the second boiling was called “muscovado batido”. Batido was exposed to clays to whiten its coloration. The macho muscovado was, however, used to produce azúcar de espumas by some operations, notably in Mexico. Sometimes molasses that was in excess from the second boiling was used to make additional sugar.

Barbadians regarded the molasses-based muscovado sugars as “peneles,” and their muscovado  had once emanated from the major hub of sugar production in the Americas from the Caribbean island of Barbados, distinguished from other sugar primarily by being moist. Another way of asking for muscovado was to call it by the common name of “moist sugar”.

Today, this hub has since shifted for this niche item, some believe to Mauritius, a small island east of Madagascar.

Muscovado sugar today has only 11 calories rather than the 15 calories of white sugar per teaspoon. The difference is due not only to the raw sugar’s natural origin and nutritive state but also to added Kalmansi lime and coconut fruit (0.2%) used to produce consistent results for the thickening process, after what it becomes poured into cups to dry before being beaten into the consistency of brown sugar. This is natural application is not a refinement procedure but rather a matter of convenience to ensure that the sugar does not foam while heated during the thickening phase.

The finished product differs in its shade from lighter to darker, although identified by its golden yellow color. As a natural product it lacks refinement, containing traces of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.


In Asia, muscovado was long called “poor man’s sugar,” although that perception could be changing with some to a niche market of profitable demand and a more health-conscious prize. In Britain, its regard qualifies it as a specialty sugar.


Muscovado today is used much as it ever was, particularly as sugar. As The Kitchn’s Dana Velden writes, its uses are suitable to many a dessert and also with coffee and yogurt. That means that muscovado should also make a great smoothie. Her stated preference concerns sophisticated flavor combinations such as ice cream or gingerbread cookies.

But with practical regard for the flavor, there lies the mystery. Whatever the type of raw sugar, expect more flavor from muscovado. For example, if turabino is available then it may be possible to catch a glimpse of the closer-to-the-cane version that is muscovado.

Muscovado is not your ordinary sweetener. Expect much more than the vacant sweet tingle of common white sweet crystal — and something thick to its substance due to its unrefined fabric. Be brave and consider what muscovado would go deliciously with so as to make the first sample the best possible experience. The rich history of this darkest of popular raw sugars makes a sort of capitalist case, “from ignominy to popularity,” regarding the latter-day reflux of its resurgent popularity that currently rides on the raw, healthy vibe that pursues for muscovado a deserved, dignified niche on the grocery sugar shelf.

Choosing Cheese Platter Making Cheese Platter Cheese Platter Choices

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

A good cheese platter offers not only a tempting selection but is visually pleasing and appropriate for the party. Small chunks of cheese are usually the best, since you don’t want that one guest who doesn’t wash his hands to touch anyone else’s food. Though good crackers and perhaps lunch meats should be set close by, we will focus on the cheese platter.

Variety adds color and taste and is far more likely to be pleasing to everyone. A good spicy cheese is recommended for at least one of your choices, usually pepper jack or something similar. Then include something mild so guests can mix and match. A mild cheddar is good as well as mozzarella or swiss. Of course these are white or white-ish cheeses, so browse the cheese aisle to select some darker ranges. Dark cheddars, smokey cheeses, even blue cheese can add color.

When shopping for cheese, browse through the store for the cheese selection. Many stores offer a wide variety. It helps to take the time to pick up each choice for the cheese platter and ask yourself what it would look like on the tray, it’s taste, and how it will blend in with the other foods offered. Ask the deli personnel if you have questions, or look online for a particular cheese. Someone, somewhere, will have written about it.

A wonderful choice for the cheese platter is to include a few expensive cheeses. Brie can be lovely and fresh, something the average poor party goers doesn’t get too often. Havarti is a good choice, being a mild tasting creamy cheese that taste, to me, like swiss, yet Havarti can melt smoothly. Expensive cheese are usually by themselves in a deli and are smaller chunks with higher prices. The choices can be amazing and overwhelming; just pick a few that sound good.

Now, shapes. Cubes are good, especially if you toothpicks nearby. Triangles are a common choice, though they seem a bit common. Most sliced cheese comes in square that can be easily be cut into triangles, though, so this choices for a cheese platter offers quick, easy, simplicity. Spreadable cheeses can be challenging. Use plastic wrap ( cheese won’t stick to it well, but you can try.) or tin foil or something under it to form a wedge and layer other cheeses along side it.

Cheeses that look alike but are different can be in different shapes. A near sighted guest mistaking a spicy pepperjack for mild cheddar will be in for a surprise. When laying cheese on the platter, keep different flavors separate by using different colors or spreadables between them, or using crackers between rows for variety.

Of course, for many cheese platters, they can be bought already made up from a store. These offer a wide selection and are visually pleasing, though a bit more expensive than doing it yourself. Unless of course, you had to buy all the cheeses and weren’t going to use that much, in which case it might be cheaper to select a platter of cheese already made up.

You have a choice for your cheese platter in color, taste, and shape. The selection are only limited by what’s available in your region. And when you add cracker choices and dips, the choices can seem unlimited. The best cheese platters offer a wide selection and are artistic in their design. Browse premade platters for ideas or go simple and use only your favorite cheeses.

Whatever the choice you make there are few wrong choices to make, and so many other things to worry about, just go hog wild. Buy whatever sounds good, looks good, tastes good. You may be surprised by how well your guests like your choice.