Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shingles and Apology To Readers

Please forgive my recent lack of posts, but I recently came down with a case of the shingles.  This is truly one of the most unpleasant, painful and disfiguring diseases that I have ever experienced.  My insurance had refused to pay for the vaccine six months ago "because I wasn't old enough" and now I have to suffer for their decision.

I hope that in another week or two (usually lasts three to four weeks) I will be back to my normal routine of one to two posts a week.

If any of you have had shingles and know of some home remedies to make recovery easier please let me know.

God bless,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Start Planning For A Debt Free Christmas

It's pretty disturbing to see Christmas in some of the hobby stores this early, but it is definitely not to early to start planning for a debt free holiday.  Remaining debt free takes planning and planning takes time, so let's get started.

If you are going to give homemade gifts you probably should have started crafting back in January, but you should be able to make some simple gifts if you start right now.  People love to get simple, but beautiful gifts such as knitted or crocheted towels, wash cloths, and hot pads.  How about sewing covers for sewing machines, or small kitchen appliances.  Use your favorite craft and get started.  The exception would be food gifts; those should be made right before mailing or gifting.

Start setting aside money with which to buy gifts.  Look at your budget to see what you can do without and put that money out of sight.  If you can have the money taken directly from your paycheck for deposit in a Christmas account.

Layaway has become popular again during this recession.  Most big box stores are doing layaway, but may not allow you to start until mid October.  They do charge a fee for this service, but it is usually small.

Do your shopping ahead of time on paper.  In other words, create a spreadsheet listing the gifts for each person and what they will cost.  Does it equal the amount of money you are saving?  If it doesn't then it is time to save more or buy less.  Stick to this list when you are shopping.  Impulse buying is the debt creator.

Watch for sales.  September is the time to buy toys, bicycles and small electronics.  October is a good month for clothing and November is back to electronics sales.  Home appliances are usually on sale in December.  Also, start buying your baking supplies when they go on sale.

The holidays can be stressful, but nothing beats the stress you feel when you open that first post holiday credit card bill.  Be frugal by planning, saving, and taking advantage of layaway and sales.

God bless,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Returning Amazon Kindle Books

There are several authors that I enjoy that only self publish their books, so I purchase their books on Amazon and read them on my Kindle app.

I do take the reader ratings in consideration when buying Kindle books, but sometimes those ratings don't reflect the true quality of the book.  Fortunately, Amazon has a liberal return policy for their Kindle books.

You have seven days to return a book for a full refund.  Log into Amazon, go to My Account, Manage Your Kindle.  A list of all of your purchased Kindle books will come up.  Open the drop down list and choose the refund selection.  Another drop down list will ask the reason you are requesting a refund.  Confirm that you do want a refund and your credit card will be credited.

There is no reason to pay for a book that is of poor quality when purchasing an Amazon Kindle book.  But be honest, don't request refunds on books you have enjoyed.

God bless,

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Frugal Panini Press

Living in the land of the great Cuban sandwich there are times when I really need a panini press.  But being frugal I don't like the idea of spending money on a one use item.  A kitchen full of doodads that can't multi-function just doesn't work for me.

So, here is my two cast iron pan panini press:

Preheat both pans on the stove, place your sandwich in the larger pan and place smaller pan on top.  This works beautifully, not only on sandwiches, but try it on a butterflied chicken to quicken the cooking process.

Keep on trying new (actually old) ways to use what we have in the kitchen, without spending money on an appliance that will sit in the cabinet most of the time.

Cuban Sandwich Recipe:

sliced ham
sliced roast pork
sliced Swiss cheese
dill pickles
Cuban bread

Assemble sandwich, then press between two heated cast iron pans.  Delicious!

God bless,

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Frugal Kitchen: Pancakes With Fresh Fruit

An easy summer supper was served here last night:  pancakes with fresh fruit.  Standing over a griddle is not fun in the heat, but pancakes for three people can be cooked quickly without overheating the kitchen.

We found some nice peaches the other day, so I peeled and sliced them and mixed them with a tablespoon of sugar.  These were left out in a bowl at room temperature to make some juices.

I used a basic pancake recipe from my handy dandy Joy Of Cooking (my copy is 31 years old).  The cooked pancakes were served topped with the sliced peaches and juice.  Maple syrup was served on the side for those that wanted extra sweetening.

Keep your left over pancakes in the refrigerator.  They heat up well in the microwave (15 seconds on high per pancake) and toaster.  An easy supper and next day breakfast.

God bless,

Out Of Grandma's Kitchen: Johnnycake Pan

Our favorite pan to use for pancakes is a cast iron Johnnycake pan that belonged to my great grandma.  What differentiates a Johnnycake pan from a griddle is the lip on the edge of the Johnnycake pan.  This held the sometimes watery batter from dripping off the edge into the fire or onto the stove.

The original Johnnycake was a basic mix of cornmeal, water and salt.  It was mixed into a wet batter and poured into the pan to cook, resulting in a thin, crisp on the edges, pancake.  Some people also call Johnnycakes by the name hoe cakes.  The story is that people would cook these cakes on the flat edge of a hoe for want of another pan.

Here is a Johnnycake recipe from the Joy Of Cooking:

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups milk

Cook cornmeal with salt in boiling water about 10 minutes.  Add cornmeal slowly to boiling water to avoid lumps. Add butter and milk after taking off of the heat.  Stir to make a batter.  Drop one tablespoon full at a time onto a hot, greased griddle.  Cook on low just like you would a pancake.

Recipes that you see with flour and baking powder added are really for cornmeal pancakes, not Johnnycakes.  In the old days in the southeastern United States flour was hard to come by, but cornmeal was readily available.

See The Lip On Edge Of Pan
It's fun to cook on a pan that is not only a family piece, but a piece of our American history.  It keeps me in touch with my forbearers that might only have a bag of cornmeal to get by on.

God bless,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Frugal Kitchen: Quinoa and Eggs

My great grandma was a farm wife.  She woke at 4:00 in the morning to fix breakfast for her family and the farm hands, cleaned up and immediately began cooking dinner for everyone.  These two meals were served outside on picnic tables, under the trees.  After cleaning up once again, she took a nap, then cleaned her house.

Farm wives were not responsible for feeding the hands supper.  Only family was served and it was done informally in the kitchen.  Needless to say, after a hard day of work, supper was not an elaborate meal.  Exhausted people don't feel like eating big meals.

Supper consisted of leftovers from the earlier meals.  Cornbread crumbled in a bowl with buttermilk.  Cold meat and bread.  Or everything thrown into a pot with water to make a soup.

In keeping with this tradition I am trying to serve my family simple, light meals during the summer.  This evening I served Tru Roots Sprouted Rice and Quinoa steamed with carrots, with a fried egg on top.  I put a dollop of an olive relish on top, but it would be good with just soy sauce.  We also enjoy just a fried egg on top of plain rice.

I am trying to get away from serving white rice.  My brother and sis in law serve quinoa on a regular basis.  After reading that it provides more protein than most grains and since it has a nice, nutty flavor I have decided to substitute quinoa for the rice.

Keep it simple, keep it plain.  It will be healthier and your family will be happy with supper as long as it is tasty and filling.

God bless,