Monday, September 16, 2013

$aving with $pices-Cayenne peppers

The deer ate all the tomatoes this season but I had an abundance of cayenne peppers (as usual) so I dry them and put them up for use all year long.

 First wash the peppers and dry with a clean towel.  Then I allow them to dehydrate on a paper plate in my kitchen.

Once they are COMPLETELY DRY I remove the stems.  They pop off quite easily but I wear gloves for this step because they are HOT and can irritate my eyes if I touch them after handling the peppers (you have been warned).  Discard the stems.  

Place the whole peppers in the grinder and whirl away.  This part has the tendency to aggravate my asthma with the fine pepper particulate!  (Say that 3 times fast!) 

Here is what they look like after having been ground.  Notice the seeds!

I place them in an old, clean spice container and store them in a cool dry space.  These adds nice kick to pizza, soups and stews.  

Instant savings of about $4.00

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Many people think that saving money requires some special theory, trick or formula but I am here to dispel that myth!  Sometimes saving money is more about discipline that it is any fancy formula!Saving money, from my perspective requires only a couple of things:

1) Desire or lack thereof
Often I find that spending money is a result my desire.  If I don't window shop, peruse the Internet or mall walk I am not tempted to buy things I don't need.  Amazingly simple...

2)  Reality Check
I have challenged myself to USE it up or GIVE it up.

I have a pantry and freezer full of food.  It makes me feel secure to have "enough" on hand and I feel like I am saving money when I buy canned goods on sale for half the regular price--but IF those go to waste, I have not saved anything.  Therefore, I occasionally go through a phase where I use up most of that which is lining the pantry and freezer shelves.  Waste not Want not...

Likewise, I collect items like fabric, craft supplies like beads, scrapbook paper and rubber stamps.  I have to challenge myself to use up the paper and beads before I buy new (a great motivation to finish a craft project which has been languishing).  This helps me create Christmas gifts, teacher gifts and other items to give away just because I have the supplies.  This mentality feeds my "Be Generous" goal too.  It feels good to give away something I have created to friends, family and co-workers out of my abundance.  Just this week, I cleaned off my craft table and made 34 pair of earrings (I could probably make 3400 more pair...) to prepare for a craft event I am participating in in early November.

I am also participating in a consignment event our church hosts.  This allows me to consign and donate items (that do not sell) in one easy process.

Since I have a multitude of stamp sets that I no longer use I will e-bay those to make a place on the craft shelf.

If I haven't worn an article of clothing, I pack it away for 6 months.  If I need it, I retrieve it.  Other wise, after the season change, i consign, sell on be-bay or donate.  Eliminates the clutter that use to accumulate in my basement and in drawers and closets.

Socks without mates?  Every few months we have a find a mate event and if no match is found, they get donated to a local charity that make money on used clothing that is not wearable.

3)  Make Do
If I need something new, can I replace that with something I already have?  I need a new iron and NO, the waffle iron will not make do-therefore I need to purchase a new iron.  However, I want a new white polo but will make do with a collarless white t-shirt I already have in the closet...

4)  Put it away
I don't know how many times I use to have to buy new because I couldn't find the (fill in the blank).  If I put something back it is always there when I need it next.

Sometimes saving money REALLY  is more about discipline that it is any fancy formula!
Please share your ideas

Have a Frugal day!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Crock pot cooking-"Ti$ the $ea$on

Some of the benefits you’ll find from dusting off that lovely retro-crock in the back of Grandma’s attic are:

■You can buy tougher (and less expensive) cuts of meat, since the crock acts as a tenderizer.

■Meat shrinks less when cooked in the crock, and doesn’t dry out.

■A crockery cooker doesn’t heat up the kitchen nearly as much as the stovetop or oven, so it’s a perfect hot weather cooking appliance.

■Frees up space in oven and stove top, great to use for parties, large gatherings, or doing a large cooking session for the freezer.

■Flavors have time to develop while your meal slowly cooks all day.

■Tofu tastes better cooked this way because it has time to soak up the flavors from broth, spices and other ingredients.

■Can be used on a buffet table for serving hot foods (soup, stew, sauces, meatballs in barbeque sauce, etc.).

You’ll want to keep the following tips in mind when choosing and using your crockery cooker:

■Choose a crock with a removable liner. You’ll have more flexiblility in ways to use it, and it’s easier to clean.

■Buy a large one (6-quart capacity is good).

■Best if used for recipes with a high water content — things you’d normally prepare on the stovetop such as spaghetti sauce, soup, chili, stew.

■For best results, fill the crock at least half full with food and/or liquid.

■If you’re cooking something like a stew or soup, leave at least an inch empty (preferably two inches) at the top beneath the lid to allow for the food to bubble when it reaches a simmer.

■Don’t peek! Lifting the lid adds time to the cooking process by letting heat out. Add 15-20 minutes to the cooking time for each time you lift the lid to peek or stir.

■High altitudes need longer cooking times. Check with your crock’s Manufacturer’s User’s Guide for their recommendations.

■Brown meats ahead of time for additional color and flavor. Browning also removes some of the fat from the meat. Fatty meat cooks more quickly in the crock than lean meat.

■Meat and poultry cooks best if cut into smaller pieces or chunks rather than cooking as a whole roast or a whole chicken.

■Fish and seafood should be added near the end of the cooking time in seafood soups, stews and chowders.

■Vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, should be added to the bottom of the crock beneath any meats, etc. Hard vegetables need a longer cooking time, and the bottom is the first part of the cooker to heat up, so they’ll start cooking sooner.

■Stir in cheese at the end of cooking, or use processed cheese.

■Milk curdles during long cooking times. Add milk near end of cooking time (the last hour, or so).

■Add spices near the end of the cooking time.

■Stirring usually isn’t required during slow cooking on Low heat. You might want to stir once or twice during the last hour, but remember that every time you lift the lid, you’re adding to the cooking time. Two stirring sessions equal a minimum of half an hour longer cooking.

The crock itself should be safe to use providing you don’t have an old one with frayed cords or some other defect. The following tips on safe user ideas can help keep your family healthy and the cook from being burned:

■Use fresh or completely thawed meats. Don’t add frozen meats directly to the crock.

■Be sure the crock is clean before using.

■Keep perishable foods refrigerated until ready to use.

■Always include liquids in all crockery cooking recipes.

■Remove the cover by opening away from your face. The steam is hot enough to burn badly.

■Don’t leave the cooker turned off with food in it for any length of time. Start cooking right away, and serve hot from the cooker. Don’t let food sit at room temperature to cool.

■Keep the crock covered while cooking. The lid on a crock doesn’t provide a tight seal (it isn’t suppose to), but it’s important to keep the lid in the center of the crock for best results.

■Don’t set the hot crock on a cold surface unless you put a hot pad, trivet or thick towel underneath.

■If the power goes out while you’re away from home with the crock running, throw the food away even if it looks hot and done. The power might have been off long enough for the food to cool, start growing bacteria, and then reheat by the time you arrived home.

■Don’t reheat leftovers in a crock, but you can use the crock as a food warmer for foods that have been cooked and heated in the oven or on the stovetop.


–Deborah Taylor-Hough

I$ a $hower is more efficient than a bath?

Unless you like your bath water to be freezing cold, a shower is probably a more efficient use of energy.  To determine if this is actually so, try this simple test to see if you are using less water by taking a shower or a bath:  When taking a shower, plug the drain, bathe as usual
When done, check the height of the water in the tub--if it is less than you normally use when bathing then a shower is the more efficient route for you!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Things your dentist wishes you knew

Research has identified periodontal (gum) disease as a risk factor for heart and lung disease, diabetes, premature, low birth weight babies and a number of other conditions. The 2000 Surgeon General's report, Oral Health in America, has called attention to this connection and states that, if left untreated, poor oral health is a "silent X-factor promoting the onset of life-threatening diseases which are responsible for the deaths of millions of Americans each year."

1)  Conditions in your mouth affect your body:  Bacteria under your gums can trigger an inflammatory response, which in turn can affect insulin sensitivity (of particular concern when you are a diabetic)

2)  Bleeding  or swelling of the gums and loose teeth can signal periodontis-which has no early symptoms (but can be detected and treated with regular checkups)

3)  Seeing a dentist on a regular basis is cheaper in the long run than not seeing a dentist.  Routine care prevents serious complications later on.

4)  Regular dental checkups are good for your.  Follow this link to learn more about the relationship between your mouth and your overall health.