It's Still Summer, It's Still Hot, It's Still Not Time to Sit By the Stove All Afternoon - A Super Quick and Easy Chicken Salad

While the kids are filtering back into school and summer vacations are coming to a close, the calendar shows we still have over a month of summer to go. Beyond the calendar, I can feel it. It's still hitting a hundred or above daily and the monsoons from Mexico are keeping the air sticky.

I hate summer and I hate cooking in this weather but, still, want to eat good without going out too much.

Enter the chicken salad. It's just a basic dish but, except for warming the chicken for six or seven minutes, it just takes a minute or two to put together.

Let's see what's in the fridge, hmm...

A bag of pre-cooked chicken pieces from Trader Joe's. 

I'll pop that into a skillet with some olive oil for a few minutes to heat up.

Salad mix from the supermarket.

Cherry tomatoes, also from Trader Joe's. Plus a few dried cranberries from the same place.

Throw the salad mix in a bowl, add tomatoes, chicken, and top off with the craisins. Pour on a little leftover ranch dressing that we brought home from a restaurant a few night ago, and dinner is done.

Perfect for a quick, midweek dinner when you're tired and have no time left on a hot day.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved


I've got one of those big packs of rib eye steaks from Costco. Been kind of bored with how I've been cooking steaks lately so I thought I'd try it like I cook my tri tip.

That, I marinade overnight in a 50/50 blend of pineapple and orange juice to break down the connective tissues and make it more tender. Then, it's seasoned with rub and cooked low and slow for a few hours in my smoker.

It's not necessary to to the "low and slow" method for the steaks but much of the rest of the recipe is the same.

I marinate the steaks for 4 to 5 hours. After that, I sprinkle some Kosher salt and black pepper on them.

Then, using a pinch between my fingers, I sprinkle each of the following: cayenne pepper, onion powder, mustard powder, and paprika.

On a charcoal grill, I sear each side for three minutes over direct heat. Move each steak to the indirect side of the grill, cover, and cook for an additional eight minutes per side.

When done, I cover and wait 10 minutes before serving.


2 inch thick choice or prime rib eye steaks
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp mustard power
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
8 oz orange juice
8 oz pineapple juice

We're blowing out our classic vinyl LP albums at The Musick Channel Garage Sale on Ebay.Find some bargains on great music today.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

I'm Gonna Get You Sucka! Keeping the Crepe Myrtle Sucker Free

This Week's Gardening...

Crepe myrtles are great trees. They have gorgeous flowers and, when fully bloomed, look like a giant living cotton candy on a stick.  They go deciduous in the winter, protecting themselves from the cold, and can stand extreme heat in the summer. In fact, they thrive on it.

While our other plants wilted and browned during this summer's most intense heat (120 degrees plus), the crepe myrtle just laughed it off and produced some more flowers.

The one drawback to them is that they're a prolific producer of suckers...stems growing from the ground around the bottom of the plant.

If you want yours to be a bush, rather than a tree, no problem. Just leave them be. But, if you're like me and want to train it into a tree, you need to get those suckers.

If left alone, you'd get a tree like this one at our local YMCA, where the suckers grow like a little bush around the bottom of the trunk.

Otherwise, you just need to go out once a week with your pruning shears and snip them off at the base.

It's not a hard job but you need to keep on top of it.

In other gardening news, I found a cluster of grapes on our vine that somehow survived that intense heat and was able to harvest it.

We're blowing out our classic vinyl LP albums at The Musick Channel Garage Sale on Ebay.
Find some bargains on great music today.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

Cheap and Easy...Trader Joe's Bool Kogi

While we've been known to get pretty elaborate with our recipes here on the blog, it's a bit much to expect to sit over a hot stove on a summer day when the temps are trending over 110 degrees. Still want to eat at home but without too much effort.

That's where the magic of Trader Joe's comes in. Here there are plenty ready to eat and pre-prepared groceries that are delicious and easy to cook.

Recently, it was another dreadfully hot Sunday was the last thing I wanted to do but it is my responsibility to provide the meals on that day. I was picking up some staples like milk and eggs at my local Trader Joe's, thinking about what quick-serve place I could go to pick up dinner that night.

For some reason, I wandered over to the pre-prepared foods cooler just to see what was there. The 'Bool Kogi,' TJ's bulgogi Korean-style beef, looked good and easy so I picked up a package.

To get to the point, this made for a easy, quick dinner. I put some rice in the steamer, fired up my Weber grill with a load of charcoal, and opened the package.

Basically, it's flank steak marinated with a variety of Asian style seasonings and sesame seeds...sort of a Korean carne asada.

The hot grill made short work of cooking the meat.  So I chopped it up and served over rice in a bowl.  Not bad but needed a little extra. We had a few lefter over Waba sauce packets (teriyaki sauce that's served at the Waba Grill restaurant chain) and put a little on top.

There it is...quick, delicious teriyaki bowls made at home for a fraction of what I'd pay at a take out place.

Better than that, we had plenty of meat left over. The next morning, I threw a handful in a skillet and cracked open some eggs.

Pour an egg, cream, salt and pepper mix over it...sprinkle on some shredded cheese...and scramble to make some of the most delicious steak and eggs I've had in quite awhile.

This Week's Gardening - 

Weeding and trimming, mostly, like cutting back on the deadheads of this glaucous daisy I have growing around my mailbox.

You can already see new flower buds coming. Also, spraying the front yard roses with deer repellent. Let's see if that works, and doing a sprinkler check for clogged emitters.

Darryl Musick

Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

The Deer Hunter - This Week's Chores

Chores this week: deadhead roses, trim back citrus trees growing into walkway, pull weeds.

No, I don't actually hunt them but it is tempting sometimes. 

Actually, I love living in an area where we get to mingle with wildlife. Deer, bears, rabbits, skunks, coyotes, squirrels, birds, possums, and racoons can be seen with regularity. The deer most of all.

During the drought, the deer found out they could make a much more hassle-free living by coming down out of the mountains and living at the foot of the hills behind our house. Why hunt for food when the people in the neighborhood grow all you want for free.

They found the rose gardens on our street...including the half dozen bushes in my front yard...and eat those tasty blooms before they can even open.

During my recent front yard landscape project, I also planted a dwarf nectarine tree. Guess who else likes the taste of nectarines. Well, at least the leaves and branches. 

I found evidence of deer damage and put a tomato cage around the sapling.  That wasn't going to work so I had to move it.

I dug up the plant.

I put it in a hole in my fenced-in backyard where I had recently removed a rotting camellia bush. Next, watered in with some vitamin B1 and done.

Now, I had a large hole in my new front yard landscape.

I went to Home Depot and bought this bright red crepe myrtle and planted it in it's place. 

I already have a pink crepe myrtle about five feet away that the deer leave alone. Hopefully, they'll find this bush just as unappetizing.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

A Merging of our Interests: The Cheapskate Suburban Dweller

Hello, friends. Today we're launching this blog. I don't call it a new blog because it's not, really.

You may know us from the Sunday Sauce Blog or the Cheapskate Urban Gardener blog but it was getting hard to come up with content for two separate blogs like that, plus a lot of went on with one blog was related to the other.

So today, we're merging those two...the Sunday Sauce and the Cheapskate Urban Gardener blogs are merging to become The Cheapskate Suburban Dweller blog. It's also got a more appropriate URL...bookmark for all the gardening, cooking, and household lifestyle content from the Musickchannel family of blogs.

Thank you for your continued support.

Darryl and Tim

Rebooting the Yard and the Blog

It's been a couple of years since our last post. Yes, things in real life just spun out of control and so hectic that I just didn't have time to keep up on all of our Musick Channel blogs. The good news is that I retired in March. The bad news is I'm still very busy but a lot of the stress has been let go and I should be able to start keeping up on our other blogs now.

So, the big news was the 5+ year extreme drought that we had in Southern California. Early in 2017, the drought was declared over...although 2018 is back to light rainfall...and it was time to take stock of the damage. 

The big thing is that our front yard was just scorched beyond repair. I really only had two options...remove all plant life out front or re-landscape.  I chose the second option.

This was not going to be a project I could do alone or cheaply, I'm afraid, so I enlisted the services of my neighbor's gardener.  He's a great guy and gardener but has a phobia of telling you a price. I do trust him, though, so into the breach we went.

I drew up what I had in mind for my new yard...a new lawn with sprinklers that took up a little more than half the room of the old lawn. Next, a strip of wood chips that I could put some drippers and shrubs in, and the last part - next to the driveway  a strip of rocks that could double as part of the driveway, if needed, but would just be part of the landscape for us. This was to alleviate the part of the lawn I'd have to drive over if I had a second car (I got rid of our second car when I retired).

First job, at a couple hundred dollars, was to kill and remove the old lawn. Then, he ground up all the dirt and added a couple of inches of mulch.

Next was installing a sprinkler system. More spendy at $1600 but I got a state-of-the-art automatic system that would evenly water the grass and I wouldn't have to remember to water. Plus, it only waters where needed and doesn't splash all over the street. The last station on the sprinkler system was connected to a spigot. This I used to put a drip line through my rose garden and also the new shrub garden under the bark. It is also on the timer.

Last, another $400, my gardener installed Marathon Sod for the new lawn. We'd talked about St. Augustine but he went with the Marathon. I'm glad he did because it feels much finer on the feet and grows much thicker than St. Augustine, choking out potential weeds very well.

Plus, as a Marathon lawn family member now, the company sends me periodic reminders telling me when to fertilize, overseed, how much I should be watering during current seasons, etc.

The lawn was looked fake. Now the gardener was done, it was my turn to finish.

First, I planted nandina around my roses. This is supposed to repel deer, which have been munching on my roses for a few years now.

Next I planted dwarf nandina going up to regular nandina at the top of the bark strip. I also put in some leptospermum which puts out little, bright red flowers. Around the mailbox by the curb, I planted tancetum...which is a gray-leaved yellow daisy like flower...and at the top of the strip by the house, I planted a dwarf nectarine tree.

I went to a local quarry and ordered enough pea gravel to fill in the last strip.  A large truck was dispatched, and the driver got this special fork lift and dumped the gravel in the spot.

It was up to me to spread that out. Lastly, I went back to the quarry and bought some of the biggest rocks I could carry myself (at 9 cents a pound...about $19 all together) and placed them in the gravel.

There, I'm finished.

Six months later, everything still looks great. I had to have the gardener add another zone to the sprinkler system because of low water pressure, that's why you seen the brown, damaged lawn at the top, but everything's worked out great. The sprinklers being timed and soaking better than I could save me about 30% on my water bill and my lawn is still the greenest on the block.

It was more than I like to spend on my garden but well worth it in the end.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

DINNER TIME! Dutch Oven Beef Stew

It can still get a little chilly at night here in Northern California. A hearty stew is just the thing to take the chill off. This reci...