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Archive for March, 2011

F is for Fruit

March 27th, 2011 at 08:54 pm

One goal I am constantly working on is to eat more fruit. I know it is good for me and I know it helps me stay healthy.

One downside is the expense. Fruit can be expensive. It's even more expensive if it goes to waste.

Each week I make a fruit salad so we have some fruit with our supper. I try to put some different things in it every so often to change it up, but I usually have blueberries and strawberries. Both are supposed to be quite good for you.

Someone wrote that bananas are the perfect fruit because they come in their own package and are easy to eat. I like bananas. For years my husband claimed he didn't like them. Now, he can't get enough of them.

As I proceed down the alphabet, I want to admit that my list wasn't by chance. I spent a lot of time ahead of time trying to come up with things for each letter. I was proctoring a test for a child a couple of weeks ago and the state requires we give the children the whole time, even if they don't use it or need it. I couldn't send him back to class, and he was getting restless. He asked me what I was working on and I told him that I had a blog and thought I'd challenge myself and try to write something for each letter of the alphabet. He wanted to help me and although I won't be using any of his suggestions, I was pleased he knew quite a few foods. U stumped him and he finally suggested "unicorn" and when I commented they are imaginary, he said then they would probably taste like plastic!

Most of the kids I work with have a very limited diet so I was pleased he seemed to know a wide range of fruits. He could tell me avocado and mango and even pomegranate. He described how he stained his shirt eating one.

As I was growing up my mom wasn't very adventurous when it came to fruit. We had bananas and apples and often we had canned peaches. She didn't buy grapes very often because she said they were expensive and the only time we had strawberries was the few years we had some plants. We never had blueberries except for those little ones in the muffin mix.

I have had to be a little more adventurous on my own and I've discovered kiwi as well a fresh pears and the fact there are different types of apples. It's a challenge to find other fruits where I live, but I am willing to try some new ones.

Do you have a favorite fruit?

E is for Eating

March 26th, 2011 at 09:26 pm

No kidding...that's pretty obvious, isn't it?

I was reading an article in today's paper that said that young adults who participate in church activities may be prone to obesity due to many of the church functions relating to food. Amen to that! We like to eat, that's for sure, and fellowship usually involves some type of food, doesn't it?

I, unfortunately, love to eat. I remember a friend of mine who basically ate to live. She said the only time food tasted good was when she was pregnant. She said she would then sit and eat row after row of Oreos because they tasted so good.

Part of good things of the trip was trying a couple new restaurants. We ate at two very good ones in the evening. I'm not a big sea food lover, but the crab cakes at one restaurant were so good. At another, the shrimp and grits were very delicious. We ate lunch at a restaurant that was named after a Greek god and the portions were large and the food was superb.

I get caught up on how important food is. I've become a bit of a snob at times. I like trying new things and I want it to be flavorful and good. A lot of my free time is spent in the kitchen. My husband is not complaining -- he said to buy whatever I want because he benefits. We had a chance to visit a great kitchen store in Charleston and I found a baking stone I felt I needed. I have to admit the fact my pastor was telling about how much fun he had using his baking stone on making bread certainly made me consider getting one. I also bought a bamboo spatula. Did I need these items. Not really. But I will get far more use of them than a t-shirt.

I think eating is like everything else, it needs to be done in moderation and that is not only in the actual tasting of food, but the thinking about and preparing as well. I certainly don't want to be so caught up in it, I forget to do other things. That being said, guess I need to get ready for supper!

D is for Doggone Tired

March 26th, 2011 at 02:28 am

I haven't been on lately because we were out of town. This last week was spring break -- we normally don't get a whole week -- and we had been saving to go to Charleston, SC, so we took off and drove the over 800 miles there and then over 800 back. And, I'm doggone tired!

We live in Illinois and took a route that took us through North Carolina and we toured the Biltmore. Can you believe the Vanderbilt and Cecil families did not invite us to tea? We then proceeded to Charleston, S.C.

We only had about two days there, but we did eat at a couple of great restaurants, as well as touring Fort Sumter. One restaurant had absolutely delicious crab cakes...we started our meal with tomato basil soup which was scrumptious.

It was nice to get away and see some neat things, but the past two days on the road made me want to kiss my driveway when we pulled in. I believe I will sleep well tonight because I am very, very tired!

C is for Cheese

March 18th, 2011 at 12:25 am

Cheese. It can be smooth and creamy or tart or spicy with a different texture.

Growing up, I donít remember many different types of cheeses. Velveeta was used for sandwiches and we all laughed about Swiss having holes, but we didnít buy much of it. The stuff in the can was good for picnics because it was portable and you didnít have to keep it cool. But that was the extent of it.

Now, Iím in cheese heaven with Feta, Swiss, Bleu, Colby, and Goat cheese to name a few. Itís interesting how I can make the same recipe and by changing the type of cheese I incorporate, it changes the flavor.

I always thought Parmesan was the stuff in the refrigerator section that came in the green package that you shook out Ė how amazing you can shred your own. And then I learned that marinara sauce has Parmesan in itÖ.life is good.

Cheese is great for a snack, a treat, and even for a meal. Seeing a deli tray with different cheeses is like having a buffet! And imagine having some grapes and some cheese. Wow, thatís almost better than dessert!

I know there are cheeses out there I havenít tried, but Iím readyÖI have some crackers just waiting!

B is for Broth

March 14th, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Broth Ė that glorious creation that is so easy to make, and can add so much flavor!

Around the holidays thereís a broth manufacturer that touts its product saying your holiday dishes will like it because there is no MSG in their broth.
I have news for that company Ė there isnít any MSG in my homemade broth either!

Iím a big fan of making my own broth. Often Iíll cook a whole chicken with some herbs and vegetables just so I will have a rich broth to add to the chicken dishes or to freeze in containers for other uses. I use the chicken, but love the added benefit of that broth.

Ina Garten often talks about making her own broth on her show, ďBarefoot ContessaĒ and she uses a big stock pot and simmers it for hours. I donít have time to do that, so I use my handy dandy Crockpot for just that!

At one of our local restaurants, they serve such large portions; I often have chicken and vegetables left over. I ask for a to go box, come home, add water and whatever else I have available, and make a small Crockpot of broth. I let it cool, strain it, and put it in freezable containers and mark what it is. Then I wag it out to the freezer so itís ready and waiting when I need some broth.

When Iím making broth, I often add some vegetables that are sort of past their prime Ė I hate to throw any food away. But I really like having that broth peeking out among the other items in the freezer, ready for a casserole, soup, or even to cook some fresh green beans in.

It's really pretty economical when you think about it -- if you are already going to need cooked chicken, adding some extra stuff to make a rich broth is actually saving you money and you can control what goes in it and what doesn't.

Ah, broth, how wonder art thou!

A is for Appetite

March 13th, 2011 at 07:33 pm

Appetite. What makes many of us motivated to do something? It can be an appetite for a good meal or a desire to accomplish something.

Since I enjoy food so much, I think mine would have to want a good meal. I am shocked at how many people ďsettleĒ for a lot of the fast food stuff with little flavor except grease and salt.

We were watching ďTill Debt Do Us PartĒ last night on CNBC and I was proud of Gail when she told the parents that eating fast food isnít good for their children because it wasnít healthy. Although the family stayed on their food budget Ė her answer was to buy cheap fast food meals. Gail said that it might be cheap, but it costs in the long run. Amen, sister!
We have some friends who love to eat out, but always try to find a bargain. Iím thinking to myself as they order some very cheap, but not nutritious stuff that you might be eating cheaply today, but what will be the cost tomorrow and the next day? Itís not like this junk they are eating is a treat or a splurge Ė it is how they eat most of the time.

I think my parents did me a disservice by not having me eat different things as a kid. Yes, I had my share of vegetables and there are some I abhor Ė no doubt about it. But, because we rarely ate fish, I have trouble being courageous enough to eat different types of fish. I think if I had been exposed to fish as a child, Iíd eat more of it.

I think our appetites and like change as we change. I remember thinking that those fast hamburgers were the greatest. We have a local fast food joint that everyone loves their greasy burgers. I used to until my stomach could no longer handle the grease.

My desire for foods has changed and I tend to like different things now than I did when I was younger. I really like a good salad. Fresh green beans are scrumptious. I donít think I ate zucchini as a child, but as an adult, I love finding different recipes to sample.

So, what do you have to say about your appetite?

Has Saving Up Become a Lost Art?

March 6th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

On Sundays our local paper prints a syndicated column by Steve Batie of Houseworks. Usually his columns are about home improvement projects or woodworking. I'm not very handy around the house and woodworking -- let's say I'd prefer not to increase my insurance premiums, but I enjoy his writing style and his well measured sarcastic remarks.

Today he wrote about people saving up for things. He said he thought most folks don't. I would have to agree. Saving has almost become a dirty word to many -- why save when you can have it right now???

I emailed him to thank him for his column, but also to say we are considered odd in our circle of friends -- we save money in a Christmas Club to buy presents come Christmas time. We have a vacation fund where we save up for a trip or two. Last year I used a small savings account to save up for a new stove. When we say we do these things, people look at us like we've sprouted antennae and we are aliens. Why not buy now and pay later? Or, put it on a credit card?

Other than big purchases than a house or a car, we like to save up for things. We did have money for downpayments on both, but that's another story.

Part of it has to do with the anticipation of actually buying something and truly owning it. It isn't an impulse buy and often something we regret. I really enjoy my new stove. I thought about it, researched it, looked at different stoves, and when I finally had the moolah to purchase it outright, decided I deserved the pleasure of owning it. It's mine and I use it and enjoy it. I'm not worrying about it being repossessed. I'm not doing without something else because I purchased it.

The same thing on a vacation. A friend of ours borrowed against his house so he could afford a vacation. I'm thinking to myself, let's see, you don't have the money outright for this trip, so you are going to borrow against the equity of your home to take a trip that when you get back, you will have to worry about paying the extra bills. Somehow, I would have trouble enjoying the vacation.

Granted, there are certain purchases you have to buy because of safety reasons. If I needed a new furnace and it was freezing outside with no thaw in sight, I'd say do what you need to do. But, to purchase an item that you want and then worry about having to pay for it later?

I think in very simplistic terms, the whole idea of not saving is what has gotten our economy in the mess it is in. In general, the Great Depression of the dirty thirties was brought in part by people buying things on credit where they didn't have the money to pay for it. They overextended themselves and eventually it hurt everyone. I think this last recession was a repeat (remember the slogan about those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it?) of that same story. People were buying more house than they can afford and suddenly when it came to crunch time, they couldn't make the payments. No money was being paid and suddenly lots of people were losing money. Excuse me, since when has it become a right for everyone to get exactly what they want immediately?

A friend of ours thought I was nuts when I suggested they make sure they had 20% to put down as a downpayment on their house. I received this comment that it would mean they couldn't buy or couldn't buy the size of house they wanted.

I guess I'm old fashioned -- I think that people are more responsible if they have a stake in whatever they are purchasing.

Although most of the folks on this site are committed to saving, I think we are select few. I say we need to make saving money a goal for everyone.

Complaining about Coupons -- who is naughty or nice?

March 5th, 2011 at 10:13 pm

We did our weekly grocery run and I spent some time the last few evenings making my lists. Not sure if I checked them twice, but I am going to tell you who I think is naughty and nice!

Nice -- those companies who give you more than three weeks to redeem the coupon. I realize grocery shelf is a hot commodity, but there are times I don't need something before the coupon expires. I'm not asking for a year, but give me at least two months.

Nice -- those companies who realize that most of us don't have warehouses to store the products. There are two of us in this house and I'm the only one who eats cereal and having to buy three boxes to save a buck might be OK if I ate three boxes in a week, but I don't. I try to buy cereal when it is on sale and when I have a coupon as well as when I have storage. My pantry space is limited.

Naughty -- OK, the this is a repeat sort of, but less than four weeks of time to buy something? Come on! Some folks budget and if it isn't a necessity, they'll do without. I might be tempted to try your product if I had a little more time with the coupon, but if I already have something, I'm not throwing it out just so I can try your product.

Naughty -- buying multiples of something or the huge size of something with your coupon. I grant you that the warehouse stores have made regular stores try to compete, but I simply do not have a place to put 24 rolls of toilet paper and 10 paper towels. And many of us who buy name brand items, don't use two toothpastes in a month.

Naughty -- a coupon that you have to buy one item to get another free or marked down. I've bought a bag of potatoes and can save 50 cents if I buy something like a cheese spread. That would be great if I wanted the cheese spread, but if not, than I feel I was cheated out of saving 50 cents.

Naughty -- those chain stores who take you to a coupon site where you can print coupons, but then the local store doesn't accept Internet coupons. All or nothing, my friends. I'm not spending the time, ink, and paper only to be told that I can't use them. And I'm old enough that I don't care if the person behind me thinks I'm an old fuss budget and refuse to buy the item. In this economy, only the strong survive!

Dear coupon folks, please think about those of us who don't have a big family and we don't need multiples of things -- I really don't need three bags of party mix to save 50 cents. I have decided that if I can't save a few cents on one item, maybe I'll just do without!