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Archive for June, 2010

True Food

June 30th, 2010 at 07:54 am

Be true to your foooood! OK, think of the Beach Boys’ hit, “Be true to your school!”

Yesterday I went to one of my favorite places…the library. I checked out an assortment of DVDs, magazines, and books. One of the books was a nonfiction tome entitled, “True Food”. It was published by National Geographic and came out this year.

I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so I decided to read instead of toss and turn. The purpose of "True Food" is to give 8 simple steps to a healthier you.
In a nutshell:
1 Eat local food
2 Eat a variety of foods
3 Aim for organic
4 Eat lower on the food chain
5 Eat fresh food
6 Eat whole foods
7 Stock your pantry
8 Green your kitchen

Most of these are pretty easy to figure out. Chapter one was try to buy food grown locally or grow your own. Chapters 2, 4, 5, 6 were very similar – eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and processed foods. There was quite a bit of information on herbs which was good as well as vegetables and their nutritional value.

Stock your pantry was instructions on buying less processed foods like all purpose flour and more foods that are natural.

Green your kitchen had some ideas such as use kitchen towels instead of paper towels, reuse glass bottles instead of plastic, and make your own cleaning supplies instead of purchasing harmful chemicals.

It was an adequate book, but I didn’t really learn anything new. I guess I had hoped to find some new truths. Fortunately I did not purchase, but borrowed the book from our local library. I'm sure for a newbie, they would find some merit in reading it.
I guess it pays to be a cheapskate!

I did, however, see a recipe I want to try tonight: shoestring zucchini with rosemary:

1 very large zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour or unbleached all purpose
1. Cute the squash lengthwise into halves, then cut into ¼ inch slices, then cut those into 1/8 inch slices
2. Sprinkle and toss with salt in a colander and set in the sink to drain for 30 minutes. After draining, squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands
3. Heat oil in a skillet – you want the oil very hot, but not smoking
4. Toss zucchini with flour in a bowl, and then add it to the oil in batches. Cook for about 5 minutes until zucchini is just golden, then toss in a few leaves of rosemary. Cook for another minute until zucchini is golden.
5. Drain zucchini on paper towel and served immediately.

If nothing else, I am true to zucchini!

Things v. experiences

June 29th, 2010 at 07:44 am

Things v. experiences. I read somewhere over the weekend that people feel that folks who talk about the things they buy come across as self centered whereas people who talk about experiences do not.
I wonder if that is true.

I would say by reading the SA blogs, it is. The folks who blog about experiences often talk about doing for others whether it is family or donating to the food bank – they look beyond themselves.

Very few blog about things, and if they do, it is matter of fact, not a brag fest.

I do know a friend who is totally tied up in the acquisition of things. He is not happy unless he is pursuing the purchase of something or purchasing something. And then the bragging begins. He makes decent money, but because of his spending habits, has had to refinance the house so he could vacation. While he was waiting for the refinancing, he was very irritable to be around because he felt he didn’t have any money to spend. It has become more and more difficult to talk to him because unless he has something to brag about, he doesn’t have much to talk about. I would say he’s pretty self-centered. I think he’s trying to fill a void in his life by filling it up with things. His idea of a vacation is going shopping. My idea of a vacation is relaxing and seeing things.

Most of the people I do enjoy time with talk about experiences and things they saw and we either learn or laugh. It’s a give and take relationship. We enjoy each other’s company and seem to never run out of things to talk about.

So, what is your take on this? Would you concur that folks who talk about things all the time come across as self-centered?

Keeping Score

June 28th, 2010 at 10:59 am

I had to do it. Almost forced. I broke down and bought some fresh green beans at the grocery. They weren't on sale even. Yikes!

You see, my husband planted green beans, but the bunny ate them to the ground. They came back and he did it again. And again. So, bunny 3, hubby 0.
However, a couple of weeks ago we bought poles and some fence wire and so far the game is bunny 3, hubby 1.

Except the beans are delayed from being chomped so many times. Almost like a Pac Man game. And it doesn’t seem like summer without fresh beans.

So, I succumbed to temptation and bought the beans. They smell good as they cook on the stove.
Maybe the score will be different: bunny 3, hubby 1 and wife 1. At least until the other green beans come up! Dumb bunny!

Let the excitement begin...

June 27th, 2010 at 10:53 am

I am not a yelling type excitable person. If they put me on a game show, they wouldn’t keep me because I am pretty quiet and tame.

But, I’m excited! Our church is going to publish a cookbook! Should I have typed that in all caps? I enjoy looking through cookbooks, but to be honest, those glossy professionally bound cookbooks are a joy to behold, but I don’t use all the recipes from them. Some of them have things I'm not sure I can find at the local grocery!

It’s the cookbooks published by those folks who cook every day that I think have a great deal of merit.
It's like finding the dog eared recipes your grandma loved and cherished and you fear were lost.
They are the tried and true recipes from the people around us that we like and trust. We get to peek into their meal time a little bit to see what they like and cook.

How many times have we been to a potluck where we’ve tried something and immediately asked, “Can I have the recipe?”

Well, the sharing of recipes has begun. And I can hardly wait to share mine.


Oh, Fudge!

June 26th, 2010 at 05:38 am

We just returned from 5 days in Michigan. The highlight of the trip was a stay at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. It was the setting of the old flick, “Somewhere in Time” if the name sounds familiar. Anyway, this is where we enjoyed the delightful 5 course meal in the main dining room where everyone had to dress up or be sent away. We were on a bus trip which insured us a reasonable rate.

Beforehand we walked around the business district of the island and there were the numerous shops. I think the type of shop that outnumbered any had to be the fudge shops. One brand had more than one store on the same street! They also gave us a free sample before we took the ferry ride from Mackinac City to the island.

The fudge was adequate, but not superior. It was almost a bit dried out yet people were raving about it. I realize things are a matter of taste, but why settle for “ok” when you can have delicious? People were lining up at these shops purchasing fudge. It was fairly hot and humid last Tuesday so I can only imagine what that fudge came back as…probably a lump, unless they ate it before we left.

That being said (typed), I am going to offer a fudge recipe that is smooth, creamy, and rich. Very rich. It needs to remain refrigerated to maintain firmness and will dry out if left uncovered, but my dear husband, after eating the freebie turned to me and said, “Yours is better.” This was my grandmother’s recipe and each holiday season she would make pounds and pounds of it to sell. If you try it, you’ll see why!

Grandma’s Fudge
4 cups of sugar
1 can of Milnot
18 oz of semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick of butter
1 13 oz of marshmallow crème
1 tsp vanilla
Chopped nuts (optional)
Mix sugar, butter, and Milnot. Bring to boil; boil 5 minutes stirring constantly. Take off fire, add chocolate chips, nuts, marshmallow crème and vanilla. Stir until creamy. Pour into buttered pans. Cool. Cut into squares. Keep cool and tightly covered in pans until serving.

Just remember, this is very rich…don’t want you getting sick!

5 Course Fill Up

June 22nd, 2010 at 05:53 pm

I rarely eat at fancy restaurants where you have "courses" and where the server puts your cloth napkin in your lap.

However, tonight was the night! We dressed up -- sports jacket and tie for him and a dress and hose for me. It was actually kind of fun to make this an event!

The dinner consisted of 5 courses. Five glorious courses served without the hustle and bustle of a normal restaurant visit. We had a chance to savor each and enjoy them and then anticipate the next.

Although we could have enjoyed extremely rich desserts, we chose to end our very flavorable meal with ice cream. Smoothy, creamy frosty ice cream served in a chilled metal dish! It was a perfect ending for a delightful meal.

Although I enjoyed this experience, I'm not sure I would want to eat this way every night. It was something to anticipate, and that is what made it so very special.

Not to mention the fact that 5 courses is very filling!

Father's Day Cookouts

June 20th, 2010 at 11:09 am

It’s Father’s Day and hot as blazes here in the Midwest. I’m sure if the weather stays sunny, there will be lots of cook outs this evening. The air usually is fragrant with various meats being grilled. Yum!

I’m always amazed that people love to cook over an open flame. I mean, I like to, but I like to cook period. But it’s funny that folks with fancy kitchens get excited about a grill. Of course these folks normally have an equally fancy grill, but whether it’s a little charcoal one or a mega stainless steel with propane, there’s something celebratory about having food with grill marks and that distinctive taste.

It really doesn’t matter whether it is a hot dog or hamburger or a pricey steak, we like our meat grilled and our mouth watering!

Cakes or Patties?

June 18th, 2010 at 07:54 am

English as a language can be confusing even for those of us who have it as a first language.

For example, why do we have tuna cakes and crab cakes, but salmon patties? After all they are similar…you take some sort of seafood, chop some other things with it, bind it together with egg or mayonnaise, put in some bread crumbs, and there you have it. You then cook it and serve it.

It’s darn confusing, that’s for sure. I guess they are too flat to be a loaf and too thick to be like a pancake. But are they really a cake…I always think of a cake as something that is frosted. I guess I could put a bit of frosting on one…oh, never mind…I’m not that crazy.

That being said, I’m fixing tuna something or other tonight. I will use homemade bread crumbs, egg, a dash of mayo, some chopped celery, and bit of turmeric and sauté them in olive oil. I’m planning on making mashed potatoes with some leftover Parmesan cheese and a tomato-feta salad.

Who knows, I might really live it up and tell hubby they are…tuna patties!

Back to Normal

June 17th, 2010 at 08:06 am

We are back to everyday life after our big anniversary adventure to celebrate our 20 years together. And that’s OK.

I pulled chops out of the freezer last night to thaw in the fridge. We go to this little store in a crummy neighborhood every few weeks on Thursdays to buy meat. They cut and package it the way you want and give seniors (62+) a 10% discount. We buy what we need and put it in the freezer. We are going to have pork chops, roasted potatoes with green peppers and onions, roasted zucchini, herb biscuits, and fruit. The onions will come out of hubby’s garden. I figure if I’m going to have the oven on, I might as well make use of it.

Roasting the potatoes is fairly simple. I peel the potatoes and slice thinly. I chop the onion and the green pepper – all about the same size and add whatever spices I have handy. Today I think I’m going to add rosemary. I drizzle with olive oil and with clean hands make sure everything is covered. I roast uncovered in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes. Yum! You can do this with about any root vegetable so when I do the zucchini and onion, it will be the same way.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. My husband would agree.

So, I better continue cooking so he’ll keep me another 20 years!

Our anniversary celebration

June 16th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Yesterday I posted that is was our 20th anniversary and many of you kind folks wished us well.

My husband did something totally out of the ordinary and surprised me with a reservation to a fancy place. We had dinner out beforehand and the kind owner treated us, but then we went to a large hotel and had a chance to stay in a suite that had a huge king size bed, a sitting area, and a whirlpool. It was very expensive, but what a way to celebrate! We don't normally do things like this so it was that much more special. I always tease my husband that he is not Mr. Romantic...he's a very kind man who is considerate, but doesn't do the flowers, jewelry, and poetry bit. So for him to sneak around and make this reservation made it even more special. We enjoyed the whirlpool both last night and this morning and ate breakfast out like we were tourists at the hotel.

Wow, what a celebration!

Our Anniversary

June 15th, 2010 at 01:02 pm

Today is our 20th wedding anniversary! We married late -- My husband was 43 and had never been married and I was 29 and had never been married. I told him last fall that for our 20th he needed to plan something special and he has!

I am very blessed to have someone who has been a great friend and a good spouse and although we are celebrating big time today (dinner out tonight!), it is great to know I can count on him.

Lunch in Paris

June 15th, 2010 at 06:10 am

Besides cooking and eating, reading is a favorite thing to do.

I just finished a new nonfiction tome called “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Bard. She talks about going to lunch with this Frenchman and their relationship and marriage and their families and friends while living in Paris. She’s a New Yorker and she adjusts to living in Paris. She isn’t a newbie to Europe, but she discusses how things are done and how she had to learn the culture to understand why.

I’m not a big traveler – I’ve never been out of the US, but I enjoy reading about different cities and how people live as told in their own words. This gal loves food and she talks about meals and foods and shopping for them. After each chapter she includes recipes. I felt like I had made a new friend. She has her own blog and the book cover encourages readers to continue the adventure at: http://elizabethbard.blogspot.com/

It was a quick and enjoyable read and for a couple of hours I lived through Ms. Bard’s eyes. After perusing many of the recipes I think I’m ready to eat!

Crockpot Supper

June 14th, 2010 at 11:33 am

Supper is in the Crockpot.

That’s always a good thing. I know most would say it is too hot for beef stew, but, that’s what we are having. I have a bunch of appointments today and we had stew meat and vegetables, so that’s what I fixed. I baked biscuits last night and made a fruit salad.

I always marvel at the person who came up with the idea of a Crockpot. What a wonderful invention. I know there’s a recipe booklet entitled, “Fix and forget it.” No kidding. I use my Crockpots a lot and feel they help us save money – we can buy cheaper cuts of meat and cooking all day makes them tender. Dinner is ready when you get home with not too much fuss and muss. And the newer slow cookers have the liners you can take out and put in the dishwasher – I remember having to try and clean the ones that you couldn’t do that with. I loved the cooker, but not the cleaning.

It’s nice to know supper is in the Crockpot.

A Chef's Secret

June 13th, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I think that chefs have a secret.

I’m not talking about a secret recipe or spice. I’m talking about the good feeling one gets chopping up vegetables.The best part is I'm not a chef, but I can enjoy this little endeavor.

I discovered this year when I would come home from work feeling frustrated or disheartened, if I would take out my big “chef’s” knife and start chopping away, I would feel better. Of course the delightful aroma of the vegetables probably didn’t hurt, either. Who needs to buy expensive aroma therapy when you can find it right at your counter top? I remember a spice company would have a radio commercial and the husband at the end would say, “Why does it smell like pot roast in here?” and you could tell that was a good thing.

I could sit and try to pinpoint what made me feel better, the movement of the knife, the larger vegetable being chopped, or even the smell as they roast or are sautéed. But, why take the magic out of it?

It's Hot, Bob!

June 12th, 2010 at 07:15 am

It’s hot out there!

One of the local car dealers usually runs a commercial where the kids are sitting around a pool and say, “It’s hot, Bob!” since the car dealer’s first name is Bob. So my husband jokingly will say, “It’s hot, Bob!” when things heat up. And it was pretty warm yesterday (90 degrees) and it is supposed to be even higher today with a heat index of a 100.

Last night for supper I tried to think of things that wouldn’t require an oven. I had leftover bread I had baked earlier in the week. I knew I was going to fix scallops. So, I scoured the fridge, garden, and pantry and came up with these items for supper: grits, grape tomatoes, Feta cheese, cucumber, Romaine cheese, green onions, bread, olive oil, mustard, Balsamic vinegar, and leftover zucchini patties.

Supper was decent: we had scallops, a tomato-cucumber salad, warmed up zucchini patties, and cheesy grits. I sautéed some of the green onions in olive oil and then added them to the grits while they were cooking. When the grits were about done, I added the Romaine cheese.

I made a dressing with the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard for the tomato-cucumber salad – and chopped some green onions into it and some basil. I sautéed some of the bread in olive oil and then drained it for homemade croutons. I added Feta cheese for a garnish.

It may have been hot outside, but at least my kitchen wasn’t over heated!

Critter Central

June 11th, 2010 at 06:29 am

If you are old enough, you might remember Ellie Mae on the Beverly Hillbillies and all her critters. If it had fur or flew, she made a pet out of it.

We don’t have any pets, but it sure seems the critters are attracted to us. OK, maybe not us personally. I guess they like our home and yard.

My husband is currently battling a bunny in our yard. That rabbit has eaten on our green bean plants three times. We wound up having to buy poles and fencing to keep that one out. My spouse said he was ready to catch it and drop kick it over the house. Hubby talks a good show, but he’s very kind hearted. He just gets upset when something bothers his garden. Just when he thought he had that battle won, the rabbit has decided to attack his newly planted flowers. He isn’t eating them, but runs by them and breaks them off. Personally I think he’s angry over the rabbit proof fence.

My husband also seems to be communing with a robin. He says that robin lets him know when it’s thirsty so he waters a tree and it makes a small moat and the robin comes and drinks. He’s named the robin Robby.

We also have two mourning doves that hang around the front yard. He said they also like the moat. He hasn't named them yet.

Our back yard seems to be a playground for the squirrels. It’s cool and shady and we have a variety of trees. Sometimes they jump on the roof and run around. The sunroom has a tin roof so they sound like elephants stomping.

The other day we had a visit from a turtle. Now, we live in the Midwest. It’s pretty landlocked, so seeing a turtle is a bit unusual. We think he waddled over from the pond at the golf course by our house. Maybe he heard of my husband’s generosity with the garden hose. My husband was going to carry it back over to the pond, but a neighbor and her two boys beat him to it.

A friend of mine puts on her Facebook page how many garter snakes have gotten into her house. She hasn’t figured out where they are coming in. Personally, I think I’d move, but that’s just me. She just picks them up, puts them in a coffee can, and carries them outdoors. She says she puts them in the coffee can so they don’t squirm and she would accidently drop them and possibly hurt them. She has all sorts of pets from birds to dogs to mice, so she’s truly a modern Ellie Mae.

The other night as we pulled out of the driveway to head to church, a squirrel was sitting on top of the roof looking at us, Robby was sitting on the edge of the gutter, and the mourning doves were cooing their farewell. I kind of wondered if they were hoping to take over the house while we were gone!

How does my garden grow?

June 10th, 2010 at 07:36 am

Okay, it’s not really my garden. I’m the cheerleader; my husband does the gardening.

Years ago, during the depression and then during World War II, people planted gardens and called them Victory Gardens. The purpose was to grow their food and have victory over the fear of want. People are now calling them recession gardens. Whatever they are called, it’s sure nice to have one.

Gardens have often been thought of as old fashioned by many and I guess in some fancy subdivisions, rules regulate whether you can have a garden above and beyond a patio tomato pot. Fortunately we don’t live in one of those fancy subdivisions.

My husband has a green thumb, but for years he wouldn’t try growing vegetables because he claimed he couldn’t do it. Yet, three years ago I convinced him to plant some tomato plants. He was highly successful. Last year he planted tomatoes, green onions, herbs, and green beans and again, a success. He branched out a little bit this year and planted everything he did last year and then added some herbs and radishes. We’ve enjoyed the green onions and radishes and I continue to use herbs in my cooking. We look forward to the tomatoes and green beans. It’s nice to eat what is grown and we know where it came from.

The area he has is very small – it’s in the front yard and probably doesn’t do much for the curb appeal, but the backyard is very shady. He tried growing a tomato plant there once…the plant grew very tall, but no tomatoes! Fresh produce has such flavor and it’s handy…go out the front door and get some!

Now, if I could only convince him to plow up the front yard and really go at it!

Chicken Tonight!

June 9th, 2010 at 08:13 am

Oven fried chicken is on the menu tonight. My husband really likes it.

When chicken breasts go on sale, I buy some and freeze them. The night before I wish to fix them, I soak them in milk with some Paprika and Turmeric. When it’s time to fix them, I dip them in egg and then bread crumbs and then bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees on a greased baking sheet. Part way through I turn them over. They are moist and delicious. Not to mention very easy to prepare.

I know there’s nothing like honest to goodness fried chicken, but this comes close.

Happy Eating!

Herb Bread

June 8th, 2010 at 07:27 am

One thing my husband likes about summer is I have more time to cook. And yesterday I baked a loaf of herb bread and he was a happy camper. My dear hubby has a green thumb and he graciously grows herbs for me to use.

It’s actually a recipe I use from the bread machine recipe booklet, but since the bread machine was put to rest, I just mix the ingredients in my mixer, let it rise, and then put in a loaf pan, let it rise and then bake it. The thing I like is the fact I can change it around depending on the herbs I want to use. I also changed the recipe because I don’t use sugar like it says, I use honey. Yesterday I used chopped garlic, oregano and some dill in the recipe. You can use whatever herbs you wish, but here’s the recipe:

Herb Bread
1 ½ cups water
4 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar (or honey)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp dried herb (or 2 tsp fresh herb)
2 teaspoons of bread machine fast rising yeast

Mix together and let it rest and rise for about 2 hours (I cover with a towel) until it doubles in size. Take out of bowl and form into a loaf and put in greased bread pan and let it rise until double in size. Bake at 350 degree oven 30-40 minutes or until top is brown and if you thump the top, the bread sounds hollow.

I use more herbs than it suggests since I usually add 2 or 3, but I think you can decide what you want. I have also changed things up on the flour – sometimes I use ¼ cup of whole wheat flour or ¼ cup of oatmeal to give it a different flavor and texture.

I feel baking this bread saves money because we normally have a bread of some sort at supper and if you price a loaf like this it can cost anywhere from $3-5 around here. It certainly didn't cost that much to bake. Plus, I can put in it what we have on hand!

Happy Baking!

Weather Report

June 7th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

It was a horrendous weekend for some as tornadoes hit and destroyed property. Our sirens went off at 11 p.m. Saturday and we immediately turned on the news to see how close. Fortunately for us the tornado wasn’t near us, but northwest -- just a few miles away from us some folks lost homes and property. I see in Ohio – a couple states over, another tornado touched down and destroyed so much.

The weather report calls for lots of rain and storms tonight and tomorrow and a chance of hail. My husband is dreading the prospect of hail. We have 5 tomato plants, green beans, onions, radishes, green pepper plants, and herbs that are really taking off and we hope to enjoy the “fruits” of his labor, not to mention the many flowers he planted for curb appeal. He said hail will destroy it all. I’m sure hoping we don’t get it.

Sometimes when we think we have everything under control, the weather has to show us otherwise, doesn’t it?

Cheap. Fast. Good!

June 6th, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Cheap. Fast. Good!

No, I’m not talking about my lifestyle for those of you who have your mind in the gutter. That is the title of a book I checked out of the library. It’s basically a cook book and it has some interesting recipes.

The author writes that making things at home can be cheap and fast if you plan a little in advance and I think the good is a given.

I’m always amazed at folks who eat out most nights. I’m not totally opposed to eating out, but I like think it is something to look forward to, not something you do because you “have to”. A friend of mine would go home and take a nap after work and then tell the spouse how tired they were and they could eat out cheaply. I imagine they did at the local fast food restaurant. I guess folks over 62 could eat off of the senior menu, but I keep thinking of the fact how limiting that has to be – fried red meat and fried potatoes…although yummy, it would get tiresome after awhile. Not to mention how bad it is for one's health.

Anyhow, this book gives 275 recipes and many shopping ideas on how to fix meals that are easy and quick and nutritious. It is a primer on basic cooking. For so many folks, I can see where that would be a good thing. Cooking isn’t a big thing with a lot of folks. One gal I know talks about what a great cook she is, but says she isn’t going to peel potatoes and will use instant. I guess it is a time saver, but maybe I’m a prude – I think instant potatoes do not have the same flavor. Besides, I like to think I’m getting a vegetable while eating my mashed or roasted potatoes.

I would recommend the book just for the ease of reading. The authors are Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross.

Having checked it out of the public library I would add “economical” to the title as well.

Do you read instructions?

June 5th, 2010 at 07:30 am

How many of us read instruction booklets? Willingly?

Yet, those of us who cook do…Recipes are the instructions on how to make most dishes.

I have far too many cookbooks – I don’t use half of any of the cookbooks I have. I like looking through them when I’m trying to think of a week’s menu.
I have a friend who says she “collects recipes.” I think she has hundreds of them. I’m not sure she uses many of them because from what she says, she fixes the same things over and over.

We went to the library this week and I checked out a few mysteries and two cookbooks. One was about Midwestern cooking – appropriate since I live in the Midwest, don’t ya think? It was interesting to read over the recipes. I was looking at the cover and it was illustrated and it was very pleasing to look at. I wonder if that is a regional thing – do we like to look at things that make us feel at home? If I lived on either coast would I be more comfortable looking at something else? OK, I digress.

I decided a couple of years ago I wanted to create my own working cookbook. So, if I try a recipe and I like it, I type it into a Word document and save it on a thumb drive. I print it out, three hole punch it, and put it in a notebook under the correct category. Bet that was a dead giveaway that I’m a teacher, wasn’t it? The notebook and the three hole punching especially.

It’s sort of like my own cookbook. I’m not writing the recipes, but it does keep a record of what recipes I have found successful. I guess if I were really high tech I would just keep the computer in the kitchen and print out what I needed, but I think that would be a waste…printing it out each time. Yeah, I'm frugal. Or cheap. You choose.

I’ve seen those television shows where the counter top is connected to the Internet and you can search for a recipe and it displays right on the countertop. I wonder if you can save your favorites like you can on the computer?

Whoever came up with the idea of writing down a recipe was brilliant. If one can read a recipe, he or she can then recreate the dish with the instructions.
So, I think I’ll continue reading these little instruction booklets. Who knows, I might get creative and make something that isn’t totally Midwestern and like it!

Email Surprise!

June 4th, 2010 at 06:58 am

Talk about a nice surprise!

We went on a day trip yesterday to see the Blue Man Group in Chicago. We left very early and got home around 9. I was beat so I didn’t even fire up the computer. This morning when I opened my email, I received an email that was marked from a friend. Seems my friend sent me a gift certificate as a thank you. What a cool surprise!

At work I have created power points and my friend asked me to do one for her son and his fiancé’s rehearsal dinner. I did and she thanked me with a gift certificate. It was very thoughtful and totally unexpected.

I guess that’s how surprises work, eh?

Rude Society

June 2nd, 2010 at 06:20 am

Society has become rude.

There’s a phrase, “It’s just common courtesy,” no longer rings true. I won’t say everyone is discourteous, but it’s downright scary to see how many people only do things for themselves. My neighborhood is just a thumbnail sketch of this. Nothing earth shattering, but 20 years ago, a lot of this wouldn't have happened.

I live in a middle class neighborhood. Not a ritzy one and not a poor one. Just walking around, it doesn’t take long to see some rudeness manifest itself. Tuesday is garbage day, but because of the Memorial Day holiday, the garbage haulers are a day behind. That is understandable. But something that annoys me is how many people will pile their garbage on the sidewalk, instead of at the end of their driveway. For those of us who walk, we have to either walk in the street or walk in their grass to get around it. We have wide driveways, so it isn’t like they couldn’t put it to the side.

Speaking of sidewalks, it never ceases to amaze me how many people will park over the sidewalk. I’m not talking about guests; these are residents of the houses – we recognize the cars. There was one family who had one of those basketball hoops set up right on the sidewalk, instead of in the driveway. Another person has a camper and it juts out over the sidewalk. It makes walking on the sidewalk difficult.

While I’m on the topic of parking, another issue is the parking on the street. I know in big cities is it just a way of life, but we don’t live in a big city. And we’ve had some heated discussions on our own street when people park in front of the mailboxes and the mail delivery person can’t get to the mailbox and therefore will not deliver the mail. On our court we have 9 houses. Most days we have a minimum of 10 cars in the street. One family won’t park in the driveway. When the subdivision was built in the ‘70s, they didn’t plan for on street parking, so the street gets pretty narrow when there are cars on both sides. Why is this rude you ask? Because of this, the street cleaner has difficulty getting down, and in the winter the snow plow driver can’t clean our street. We don’t get first day service on the snow plowing anyway, and it would be nice to be able to have the court cleaned when it does come down.

Most of the folks around here who walk their dogs do clean up after them. But, there has to be a few…it’s bad enough they don’t, but when it is on the sidewalk, ick.

On one of the streets over, roofers replaced the roof. It was hot and humid yesterday and they looked tired while they were cleaning up. We noticed on our walk that something had blown out of their truck and lay in the street. No one stopped to move it or pick it up whether they were walking or driving. My husband and I checked it out -- it was a tarp that had probably blown out of their truck. He wrapped it around the sign post to get it out of the street and so it wouldn't blow and if the roofers came back, they would see it. I wonder how long it would have stayed there otherwise.

I don’t think most of these folks set out to be rude, but I think society has created this when we no longer consider the other guy. Courtesy just isn’t that common anymore. I think kindess is the exception instead of the norm.

Frugal Food Findings

June 1st, 2010 at 07:23 am

We all say we want to do it. But how badly should be the question. How badly do we want to save money?

We have some friends who mew about not having a lot of money, but they continue to eat out. I don’t mean a couple of times a week. I mean at least once a day. Sometimes they eat out twice. Some of our friends brag about saving money by doing fast food…yet they then complain about the cholesterol medicine they have to purchase. Guess they don't see the correlation.

Every so often I get on a kick and try to figure out how much a meal costs us at home. For example, last night we grilled out steaks, had loaded potatoes, fresh green beans, grilled tomatoes, herb biscuits, cottage cheese, deviled eggs, and fresh fruit salad. The steaks cost us about $8. I imagine with the rest of the ingredients, we spent less than $16 total. These were decent steaks too, not shoe leather variety. Then I think back a few months ago when we went out with some friends who had to go to a steak house and I bet we spent way over $50 for a meal. Plus, our driving to that place which wasn’t in our town so that was an added expense. What a big difference in the cost of the meals!

We don’t eat steaks very often so when we do, it’s usually for an occasion. Normally we eat lots of chicken. I cook at home quite a bit because it saves us money as well as I control what we eat. We do go out and I feel we can afford to because of the other ways I save money. But, we just don't go out to go out. It's something we savor and enjoy.

Eating a healthy diet saves money as well – I took two sick days this past year. One I was sick and the other was because I had to – they were removing the braces off my teeth and you go in the morning and then back in the afternoon. I have a lot of health issues so for me to only use two sick days is nothing short of remarkable. I do think eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, little red meat, and hardly any fried food made a difference. Dear husband walks 5 days a week and since the weather has gotten better, I’ve been walking too.

During the school year I plan our menus ahead and make lots of casseroles or use the Crockpot. Yes, I’m sure I could be doing lots of fun things over the weekend besides that, but I feel committed to making meals ahead. And to be honest, I don't mind. It's kind of a challenge to figure out what I can fix without doing the same thing over and over again. For about an hour or two, I can make 3-4 meals ahead so when I get home, can pop something in the oven and we can have supper at a decent hour.

I have tried to convince some of our friends we should take turns hosting each other for meals to save money. Or we could have a potluck. We have some friends who do that with their Bible study group and besides the good company, they all save money and get to try new things. Unfortunately our other friends don’t want to do cook at home – they would rather go out and then complain about lack of funds in their daily life.

I claim to be frugal and I am to a point. I guess the definition depends on how you look at it. I will not sacrifice good nutrition for the sake of saving money. We buy lots of fruits and vegetables. Sometimes we buy fruits out of season because we need the nutrients. I figure I save money by cooking at home to more than make up for the cost. Our suppers aren’t soup and a sandwich – my husband is old school and he wants a regular sit down dinner so we have it – a meat, a starch, a vegetable or two and some fruit and of course some bread. My herb rolls are a steal and easy to make – 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder,(or 1 cup of self rising flour if you have it), 2/3 cup milk, a tablespoon of mayonnaise, and then whatever herbs you have on hand. I change out the recipe depending on what I have. Last night’s was dill, garlic, and oregano. I’ve also put shredded cheese and garlic together and they are very similar to the ones you can get at a popular fish restaurant. Grease a muffin tin, bake at 400 until they start to brown, and you’ve got cheap, easy rolls.

So how badly do I want to save money – in the long run I do save money by cooking at home and feeling healthier. So, I guess I’ve answered my own question. How about you?