Bargain Bin For the Win!

As you know I’m a Bay Area gal and I live on the Oakland-Berkeley border.  The area is most well known as home to the UC campus and its rather significant population of professional protestors, hippies, and homeless [See Jon Stewart’s clip on Code Pink].  However, in reality, it’s not that bad.  Sure you’ll run into some crazies and be asked for money on most days, but B-town and neighboring Oakland has an awesome amount of culture and variety, which can keep you honest and on your toes as long as you don’t get sucked into a tree sitting vortex.

With all this variety, the food scene here is top notch.  While we have San Francisco just across the bridge the East Bay certainly holds its own in the culinary world (See Alice Waters, The Local Butcher, Alegio Chocolate, etc).  We’re also growing by the day as the city slickers move over to our side since

1) Rent is cheaper

2) Chef’s are figuring out that not all the East Bay folk want to trek out to the city every weekend if they don’t have to (LAZINESS FTW!)

But the real epicurean gem in this here parts is Berkeley Bowl.  I’ve never seen a more impressive and reasonable (whooo!) array of produce, meats, bulk foods, prepared foods, spices, etc. in a single place.  Whole Foods has nice stuff and all, but it’s called “Whole Paycheck” for a reason.  In addition to the stunning array of veggies that Berkeley Bowl has on a daily basis they also have the Bargain Bin.

Now the Bargain Bin is the most magical place ever.  I try my best to live out of the darn thing.  All the produce that is getting to the end of its prime gets bundled up and placed in the bargain bin at sub-dollar prices.  Now the Berkeley Bowl standard for “end of it’s prime” often passes as Safeway’s normal stuff.  Some of it is a tad soft or fuzzy, but with a little elbow grease you can just pick out the nasties and you have just fine produce.

Greatest Place on Earth, although it's been picked through already.

I’ve had several shopping trips where I easily can get 90% of the produce I need for the week in the bargain bin.  Whenever this happens I spam people with images of my grocery cart haul, while they are likely doing important things at work.

Bell Peppers, Broccoli Rabe, Tomatoes, Bananas, Berries, Pears

How is this not winning?

Kale up the wazoo!

Obviously, I don’t always get to pick what I’m getting because it’s where all the randoms end up, but this is great because it forces me to come up with new recipes and it keeps the meals a changing. Variety is the spice of life! The bargain bin is my version of other people’s produce boxes from CSA’s or only eating seasonally, which in California is more or less a foreign concept : )

Great food always comes out of the bargain bin such as

Kale Chips from Smitten Kitchen

Roasted Kabocha Squash

any tomato recipe , random attempts at paleo banana breads, or smoothies.

And that is my story on the Bargain Bin at Berkeley Bowl.  It really is the most magical place on earth.


You got nothing on my Bargain Bin

If you’re in the area go check it out, because the Bargain Bin is always filled with winning and really who doesn’t like winning?


Turkey Fest Part III – The Big Day!

And now for the big day!

So after hitting the sack around midnight on Wednesday after cooking and completing a shift at work I woke up at 6:30am to take my Big Ass Bird out of the fridge so it could get to room temperature by the time I needed to get it in the oven, which was 8am since we needed food on the table at 2pm for this particular Turkey Day.

Admittedly, I could have planned all my food preparation a whole lot better instead of cooking until midnight and getting up 6.5 hours later to make sure everything was done on time.  I’m not Martha Stewart and I like to procrastinate. Oh well : )

Anyways moving on this is how I finished up the rest of food noms.

Big Ass Bird

  • Brought to room temperature by 8am
  • In the oven breast side down on a roasting rack at 425F for 30 min
  • Take it out, turn the oven down to 325F and flip it over with clean towels without burning your hands off (I tell you this is a feat with a 20lb turkey)
  • Roast until the deepest part of the thigh reads 160F with your handy dandy meat thermometer (I took it out at 157 it was close enough)
    • This took about 5 hours in total as I calculated approximately 15min/lb for roasting time for a heritage turkey over 16lbs according to all my interweb searches
  • Tent it up and let it rest for 45 minutes. Carve and Serve


Kale Salad

  • Clean your kale
  • Remove the ribs
  • Slice it up into long strips
  • Add the dressing I made the night before and let it sit for at least 2 hours before serving

Roasted Beet Salad

  • Dice into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Make dressing
  • Add scallions and goat cheese
  • Mix it all together

Carrot Cake

  • Remove cake from pans
  • Frost it
  • Decorate with chopped walnuts

Grain Free Carrot Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting


  • Heat it up on the stove

    Gravy with pureed chicken skins and giblets.....mmmmmmmm

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Puree with Caramelized Onions

  • Heat it up on the stove

    Always gotta garnish

Thanks to my prep the night before the last two items were super easy.  If I hadn’t done that beforehand things probably would’ve ended up more like this

Hungry people on Thanksgiving means everything blows up in the chefs face....

Fortunately things all went quite smoothly and everything got on the table and also onto the surrounding shelves because all of it wouldn’t fit. Yay for gluttony!

Not even the complete spread, which I forgot to capture because I was too excited for food noms

There was still beet salad, kale salad, gravy, cranberry sauce, pies, cakes, rolls, and half of a turkey not featured on this table.  Also the after picture looks almost the same because the 12 of us failed to make a significant dent in our spread.  Amos, we failed you : (

On the good side though, Jeff and I got to take home lots of turkey leftovers as we deconstructed the half eaten carcass

Taking the turkey apart and breaking the wishbone

I won!

Too angry to look at the camera because he lost. Mwah hahaha!

Needless to say it was a great day and all of us and our bellies were thankful for food, company, and chance to spend some quality time with those we love.

Hope you had a fabulous Turkey Day too! Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey Fest Part II

*Sorry for the delay. I forgot my lappy at Mynchia’s house on the big day and did not get a chance to retrieve any of it until last night.

As my bird is brining away today I needed to get down and work on some of my side dishes for the nomful day looming ahead.

First off, this is what I’m planning on making for the big day:

Carrot Cake – ala the Food Lovers

Cranberry Salsa – borrowed from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Grain Free Gravy

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Puree

Roasted Beet Salad With Goat Cheese

Kale Salad – borrowed from Food Gal

Big Ass Bird – borrowed from the LA Times

Party guests will be contributing other Thanksgiving favorites, which I’ll happily eat when the day comes.  After passing out from food coma I will then share with you cyber family the rest of the noms : )

Now for the food prep game plan….

Carrot Cake
  • Bake the cake
  • Make the icing
  • Assemble it on Turkey Day
Cranberry Salsa
  • Made it on Sunday
Grain Free Gravy
  • Make it today
    • I suggest making it earlier though : )
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Puree
  • Make it today
Roasted Beet Salad
  • Roast the beets today
  • Make dressing day of and assemble
Kale Salad
  • Make dressing today
  • Assemble morning of Thanksgiving
  • (In retrospect it tasted better after sitting for a whole day, perhaps next time)
Big Ass Bird
  • Let it brine today
  • Cook it tomorrow

And this is how I felt at about 11:30pm