Spring Cleaning, Preemptive Strike

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I decided that tomorrow I will start my house clean out. After looking around it became apparent that I can only shuffle things from place to place, unless I first clean out my storage areas. This will be a task of tasks, mostly due to the fact, the majority of stuff in storage is my boyfriends.

You see, like so many men, he saves everything. Nothing is in bad enough shape to dispose of yet, after all it seems wasteful to throw some thing out just because you forgot you had it for the last 3 or 4 years. That is if I can get him to even look threw it. He cooks and he cleans with out me even asking , but he will crawl under the couch and hide when it comes to sorting threw old things.

I will be dedicating the next two days to making new storage room and handling the old and tattered items in storage already. I found a few useful, or at least explanatory sites on cleaning and organization. A lot of it is stating the obvious, but there are a few cute toys, tips, and tricks rolled in.

Here are my links, I hope they can provide some insight on your cleaning projects in the future.

Kill time for charity!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I came across this great little game today called freerice. It's basically a vocabulary trivia game, but the twist is that for every question you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice to charity.

Just think about it, your sitting at your desk playing a trivia game and when you get caught you actually have a legitment excuse!

It's a nice program, it's free, and it's for a good cause. Stop in and play when ever you have a few moments to spare, no sign up required.


A Nice Break

Today I was going to get up early and keep busy, filling up with tasks for the upcoming week. I wanted to start plans on the domination of my apparent.

I was going to lay down the meal plan for the week, and do some topical cleaning and organization. I was going to hit the market early and get some good first pick produce, then research some software sites I have.

In stead it turns out I had an entire day of quality time, good meals (diet qualified of course!), good talk, and almost nothing of what my original intentions were. To be honest it was one of the nicest days I have had in a while. We event went for a stroll this morning.

Now that the evening has come, I will do a little work and then have dinner and more tea. The blog posts on my productive day will have to come tomorrow. I always enjoy a day off, but there is some thing special when a day just turn out wonderful all on it's own.

I hope you all had a great day too!

Adjusting the Flat for Spring

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ah yes spring is here, the birds are nesting and the days are now getting warm and sunny. It's time to settle down and plan out my Spring Clean and house re-organization. This year however there is an exciting new challenge. I am going to budget myself only 10 Euros for the whole house.

How on earth am i going to clean, organize and make my flat more livable on 10 Euros? I plan to Recycle, reuse, and create every thing I can. Like everything els, I will research, and record all my stages. Then I will post my plan and it's updates as I go along.

Tomorrow I will try to get my goals listed this way if any one has advice on them, I have time to look in to it. This flat has not had much TLC, we always planned to move ASAP, so we never sunk any time or money in to it. Now that we know we will be here a while, were going to have to try to make it livable.

We have only a little furniture, lots of nick-nacks and things to store, and extremely limited storage room. Actually we have one closet for two people to share and a pantry for food items and thats it. It's not odd or surprising though, after all it was a bachelor pad until I came, and like I said we never invested in it.

All in all it should be a great deal of fun to see what I can do when given a good challenge. I look froward to any advice I can get along the way, I will surely post any thing I am stuck with, and my whole process.

Wish me luck!

Computer Gadgets: Clipmarks

Sunday, April 27, 2008

This is a real simple and cute program I use to save clippings from the web. You see I'm a real note geek, I like to write it all down. I keep enough lists and notes to drive a normal person insane.

It's not intentional, and after i sort threw the stacks I find out most of them are the same thing several times. I just forget I already grabbed it, or I couldn't find it and copied it again. I always meant to make some kind of digital storage for my notes, but that requires effort.

Then these clipping programs came along and helped me clear my desk. There are a few that I use in collaboration to make my on line filing cabinet, but this is the one I will cover first.

Clipmarks is a really simple program for both IE explorer and Firefox. It stores your clips on line so you can access them any where, or sends to an email, or publishes to a blog. You choose each time you clip where you want it to go.

It has a super simple design, just click the tool bar icon (or right mouse click) to turn it on. Then highlight or click on a block of text, when you have all that you want, click the icon again. A window comes to ask what you want to do with the clips. (ie. save, email or publish) Give the item a title and a description if you want and thats it!

Not only does it save what you want it to, but it also provides you a link of where you got it from automatically. This program is free, and I have field tested it to know it's safe. If you do research or have any reason to highlight or review, I suggest taking a look. As always, this program is free, but it does require registration.

Link: http://clipmarks.com/
When you want to access

Food Rookie: Sugar Free Marinara Sauce

Saturday, April 26, 2008

This is a really quick and simple way to make a rich and creamy or chunky tomato sauce with out adding sugar.


  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 1/2 a carrot - chopped fine (25 to 50 grams)
  • 1 small onion -chopped fine (50 to 75 grams)
  • 2 cloves of garlic - minced (3 if you really love garlic, 1 if you don't)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tea spoon crushed hot pepper flakes (optional or adjust to likening)
  • 1-1/2 table spoon Italian seasoning (oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, sage, savory, and rosemary)
  • 1 can tomato product. (pured, ground, diced, or sauce.)

Feel free to use additional seasoning, including salt and pepper to taste. Pasta sauce has a large amount of personal variations, that are added to the basics. It's a great, easy, and cheap way to hone your seasoning skills.

In hot sauce pan (or pot) add the olive oil, coat well the pan by rolling it around the bottom. Add bay leaf and seasoning in to oil. Do not let it burn!

Once seasoning is infused in to oil, or looks like it's getting to hot, add carrots and onions.
If they appear to be sticking or burning before softened, add water or broth one spoon at a time as needed. Move the vegetables often, when they appear to be getting soft or the onion becomes clear, add the garlic.

Cook 2 minuets, then add tomato, stir frequently or it will easily burn. Make sure the heat is low and simmer about 10 minuets if your going to blend (recommended to blend) continue on the directions. If you want a chunky sauce, continue cooking 15 minutes until sauce is to your likening.

Remove from fire and with with a stick blender, puree until smooth. You can also do this in a stationary blender or food processor, but be careful it's hot!. The color will lighten, don't be alarmed, it's supposed to do that =)

Return to pot and simmer 5 more minuets.

Blending smooth is optional, but makes a rich thick and creamy sauce!

*Note: The entire pot of tomato sauce is from 200 - 250 Kcal. To lower the calories use less oil, and more of the broth / water method to cook. You have to watch the pot more carefully, but you can save 40 kcal by using 2 tea spoons of oil over 1 table.

Food Storage: The Carrot

Friday, April 25, 2008

The carrot is a healthy favorite for many people of all ages. It is an essential part of cooking and can even be a substitute to sugar in some recipes. This sweet, brightly colored veggie has even teethed many of our children.

Adding to value of the common carrot, is the fact it stores easy, and there for is a good choice to buy in bulk. This article is to help your carrots last to the maximum limits at the best possible quality. I have below information on selection and storage of the carrot, I hope you find it useful.

Selecting a Carrot
When selecting carrots you need to consider what you will use them for. Young carrots, especially carrots with greens still attached, tend to be sweeter. The extra sweetness will come at the cost of storage life though. Baby carrots are rarely young carrots, most often they are regular carrots cut up in to "baby" size portions. Larger carrots are often more then sufficient for your cooking and snacking needs. They also come in bulk sizes more regularly and are available year round.

Here are some tips in selecting carrots of all kinds.

Signs of a Healthy Carrot:

  • well shaped
  • smooth
  • firm
  • free of blemishes
Signs of a Healthy Carrot:
  • cracked
  • moldy
  • discolored or green ends
  • Holes
  • bristly appearance
  • blistering
  • darkened and water-soaked skin
  • soft or flabby
Storage of carrots:

Remove any green tops, the longer you store them with the leaves the more moisture and nutritional value they will loose.

Store in perforated plastic bags, and place in refrigerator. The crisper is preferred as carrots like moist cool storage to stay fresh.

Do not store neat fruit as ethylene, a gas produced by ripening fruit, will cause the carrots to become bitter.

Alternative Storage:

Canning- Canned carrots must be processed in a pressure canner.

Freezing - To Freeze Carrots they must be blanched.

Resources Links: urbanext.uiuc.edu; extension.umn.edu; ohioline.osu.edu

Nutrition: Green is Bad.... kinda

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I just had a huge detour sign placed in my meal plans. I know that vitamin K effects blood thinners. I did not realize how much and how fast. So now I have to re-do all my meal plans and recipes, to fit in the low vitamin K end of the diet in.

Luckily I found a very helpful tool! I stumbles on this Nutrient Search Tool on NutritionData.com.

The last thing I could really use is a Spanish nutrition site! It's not easy guessing the translations of cuts of meats and such. After all not all the cuts are the same as what I am used to, plus Spain has a plethora of it's own foods not found in the counters.

On the up side, I am going to chart my progress with this diet, and I hope it can help others who need the same. If any one has any advice on where I could look for this, printed or on line, I would be thankful for the help.

Nutrition: Starting Resources

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

As promised here is my starting tools for a more healthy lifestyle. I am using these to help learn about health, food, and dieting.

Web Site

I also use About.com: calorie count plus as a food and exercise log.

  • Food scale
  • Calculator
  • Food Log
  • Pedometer
  • Exercise Log
  • Body scale
  • Measuring Tape
  • Watch (or clock with second hand, to take pulse)
  • Copy Book
  • Pen

It's an easy start, and again http://caloriecount.about.com/ has a recorder for all the info and can help you set a healthy calorie count to gain or loose weight.

As for me, I just recorded in a book my measurements, weight, and resting pulse. Started the 10,000 steps program and keep a strict food log, trying to meet my calorie count from about.com.

More to come as time goes on and my routines evolve in to more effective processes.

Learning to Live: Nutrition

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Last week I began to map out meals and snacks to help us loose weight and start a healthy lifestyle. As always we have the challenge of frugality, limited access, and a language barrier now added to my new challenge of nutrition control.

After planning out a few days worth of meals and snacks, I was amazed how much can fit in to a strict calorie, and carbohydrate restricted diet. I was just as amazed to see how hungry you can still be after eating all that food.

This is the first week of the diet and I expect to be hungry, after all it takes time for your body to adjust and stomach to shrink down a bit. To help make this transition easier, I went to the web. Here I found recipes for food that would fit in to our meal plans, or at least I thought I did.

After plugging the recipes in to some calorie counters, you would be surprised the differences that come up. It seems a lot of people miscalculate the calories, often leaving out the cooking agents like butter and oil, or misjudge the serving sizes.

This has lead me to create my personal menu challenge. I am making one menu 3 meals and 2 snacks that add up to 1,000 calories a day and a second menu that adds up to 1,600 calories a day. For people who read this and don't know me personally, 1,000 calories is NOT a healthy amount for any one to eat, unless you are under doctors orders to do so.

I will post more on my menus, nutrition tools, and recourses in upcoming posts this week for any who are interested. I am not looking to make this a dieting blog, but I will keep health and nutrition a topic.

Computer Gadget: Web TV

Monday, April 21, 2008

This is a cute Internet TV program that I have been testing out. Like most of it's kind the program choices are limited if your outside the USA, but it seems to have mote then most.

If you enjoy TV, even cable, you can watch a lot of it from your computer with out need for any special equipment. All this requires is the program it's self and an Internet connection. If you like me and don't see a point in paying for cable, but like to catch a show now and then, this is the way to go.

The best part for me is, Joost is Free, and free is good.

So if you want to watch TV on your computer take a look, it works on Windows and Mac OS X.

Link Here: http://www.joost.com/

Buying in Bulk: Part 3

Sunday, April 20, 2008

OK so today I am ready to finish my pre-store preparations for bulk shopping. I have taken the time to narrow down what we use often enough to buy in bulk.

Now it's time to see how much each item is per size and unit, my receipts and memory to help me do this. I write the item name, the standard unit price and the price I pay per unit, as I often buy enough items on sale to last me to the next sale.

A brief example of what my list would look like:

Turkey Breast - 7eur / Kilo; 6eur / Kilo
Onions - .70 eur / Kilo; .65 eur / kilo
Juice - 1 eur / ltr; .90 eur / ltr

The reason I go threw this step is simple, just because it's bulk doesn't always mean it's a savings. If it is a savings, it still may not be worth to buy in bulk.

For example, every week or two soda goes on sale in the local stores. The sales and or coupon deals will bring the price down to about 90 cents. Where as buying in bulk only brings the units down to 1.10 euros. If I hadn't taken the time to see what I normally pay for soda over what the sticker price is, i would have lost 20 cents per bottle.

On the other hand they once had onions in a 10kilo bag for about 50 cents per kilo. this is a clear savings over what I normally pay. The thing is I can't use, store, or save 10 kilos of onions! If half of it goes to waist the price goes up to 1 euro per kilo, and thats more then I pay normally, so it's no bargain to me.

Now that I am armed with an accurate pricing for all the items I would like to get, it's time to prioritize them. What do I still have a lot of, and what can I fit. After I make all these arrangements I am ready to go to the store. I will compare my prices and consider price and the size and waist factor.

I will bring you storage posts on how I manage my space and how I save both meats and produce in the future. Please leave any tips or information you may have to add to these posts, as it's all still a learning process for me.

Food Rookie: Strawberry Cream Desert (sugar free)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This is a really simple and delicious desert. If you are the kind of person who does not like to use artificial sweeteners, you can try a little honey or sugar in place for this recipe. I do suggest you always use sweeteners, both natural and artificial, to taste in fruit recipes. Many times a good ripe fruit has all the sweetens required to make the plate perfectly sweet.

Strawberry Cream Desert
This is a fluffy layered desert of chocolate, sliced strawberries and whipped cream. At the end of the recipe I will add the shortcuts for people who are looking to make this more quick and easy but less home made.


  • 3 large strawberries sliced fairly thin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 table spoon coco powder.
  • sweetener to taste

Special Equipment

in a bowl whip the cold cream by hand or with electric mixer until thick and fluffy. This takes longer by hand, but it will get there. Separate half in to new bowl, fold in powered coco, be sure not to mix roughly or the cream will deflate. Add sweetener to creams as desired. In tall glass layer creams and strawberries and refrigerate. When cold server and enjoy.

Use whipped cream in a can - it's faster but just not the same
Use Chocolate syrup instead of coco powder - this puts sugar in it

When I make this to be a special occasion treat, I use melted chocolate with coffee and then fold it in to half the cream. Then top with grated chocolate pieces or slivers and fresh mint leaves for garnish.

Buying in Bulk: Part 2

OK, so I have isolated the items we buy the most often and then decided what was the most expensive. It is a greater value to buy items we use often in bulk and buy items that are higher-priced, but last a long time, on sales. After all you want to use everything before the expiration date. Like I said, it's not a savings if you throw half of it away.

The way I used to decide what we used most often was easy. I looked at my shopping receipts for last month and this month to date, and wrote down what we bought the most of. next I used my common sense to think about what we use, eat, and drink every day.

The second step was to look to see what was the largest single price purchases we made. Again I looked at my receipts and used our memories to narrow down and pick out the more expensive items we use.

Looking at the list it's easy to eliminate a few items from the bulk list. Things like lettuces, and kiwi we could never eat on time and don't freeze well. Then there was items like fresh cheese and yogurt, not only do these spoil quickly but we don't eat them steadily.

Now that I have my list of items that I can use in bulk, it's on to stage two. It's time to figure out how much the items are per unit or wait. I will do a little more consideration on items after I finish the normal unit price.

I know this seems like a lot of work for a shopping trip, but when every cent makes a difference, a little calculation and prudent planning is worth all the time you have.

Buying in Bulk: Part 1

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Today I begin to plan my bulk shopping trip, for many people this is easy, but for me it's pivotal I do it correctly. Our storage space is more then limited, our budget is low, and the opportunity to shop at the bulk stores are few and far between.

One of the great disadvantages of living in Spain is that conveniences I was used to back in the US are not so convenient here. Most of the stores good for large savings are quite a distance from where we live, and not owning a car in the city makes sense, until you want to shop in bulk. So we rely on the kindness of family to hitch a ride, gasoline was over 3 euros a liter (thats over 18 US dollars a gallon) last I looked, so we make the most out of these trips.

So how do we utilize this golden opportunity? I will need to break down what I need in to stages.

The first stage will be assessing what I need, and what is worth to buy in bulk and what will surely be a waist of money.

The second stage will be deciding what I can afford, what is a savings over local markets, and what i can fit. Like I said storage space in my flat is extremely limited. Then we have to be able to fit it all in one care with 4 people and their bulk shopping items.

I will break down each section in the next two days, as I need to take the rest of today to actually do it... wish me luck!

Food Rookie: The Toasty

Ah, the toasty what most Americans would called a toasted or grilled sandwich. These are simple and tasty, and today I will go over tips to keep them more healthy too.

The healthy toasty relies on the flavor of the ingredients, not the grease you would normally fry them with. Below I will state the steps to making 3 kinds of toasties that will keep you coming back for more.

As always, the leaner and lighter you go with ingredants the better for you this is. I tend to use low salt, and fat meats simply because I prefer them.

I also noticed because these are toasted with out grease, they reheat well and make a good warm up lunch to brown bag.

Ham and Cheese Toasty


  • whole wheat sliced bread
  • low fat thin sliced ham
  • Swiss, Cheddar, or Any cheese that melts easily (shredded or thinly sliced)
  • One good non-stick pan


Simply roll the cheese in side a slice of ham, make enough to fill your portions of bread.
On a hot non-stick pan grill the roll of ham on all sides until it looks slightly wilted. Place inside bread slices, then transfer back to hot pan and grill the exterior of the sandwich on both sides.

With out any grease or oil on a good nonstick pan, the toasty should still brown evenly. Because it takes slightly longer to brown bread with out grease, the cheese will be perfectly melted when it's ready to eat.

Grilled Steak Toasty

  • Roll or section of crusty bread
  • Steak
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Swiss, Cheddar, or Any cheese that melts easily (shredded or thinly sliced)
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1tbl olive oil divided
  • A good non-stick pan
  • A Meat Tenderizer, Hammer, or heavy cup
Lay Steak out on counter and beat with until it begins to tear, then add salt and pepper to taste. Cut in to 1 inch strips and set aside.

Cut open the roll or bread as for a sandwich, spread half a table spoon of olive oil between the soft interior of the two halves. Sprinkle on Garlic powder then grill, soft sides down on the hot non-stick pan. Remove when browned, be sure not to burn garlic.

Add other half spoon full of oil to pan, toss in meat and brown until desired doneness.
Place on bread, add cheese and close sandwich. Now return to pan and toast the both exterior sides of the bread pressing firmly to melt cheese.

I add canned or onions and peppers to this for my tastes.

Toasty Chicken Wrap or pita.

  • Seasoned Cooked or canned Chicken breast
  • 1 Pita or Wrap
  • Swiss, Cheddar, or Any cheese that melts easily (shredded or thinly sliced)
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Sliced Tomato
  • Sliced and Peeled Cucumber
  • Sliced red onion
Give a light toss to the chicken on a hot pan to warm it through out. Quickly add chicken, veggies and cheese to bread, then heat on open fire or in the broiler. This will brown FAST so be careful not to burn it.

These recipes are nothing special, but we enjoy them a lot, and using a good non-stick pan you can totally eliminate the need to grease such a lovely food.

Stay tuned for recipes to liven up these toasties even more. I also hope to get a new camera to be able to share more instructional advice.

Food Storage: The Tomato

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tomato is yet another produce I would love to buy in bulk to save money, but fear letting to many go to waist. Here are the use and storage solutions I have recovered for this months tomato purchase. After all how can we justify our bulk store memberships if we don't use them to the full potential.

When selecting your tomatoes there are some factors you should look for.

  • Sniff them, the stronger the aroma the better.
  • They should be heavy for their size.
  • Look for them plump with tight and smooth skin
  • Make sure they are free from bruises, cracks, or blemishes
  • Ripe tomato will be completely red or reddish-orange

Vine ripened tomatoes are the best tasting, but go bad faster. Most package bought tomatoes will not be vine ripened. You can store tomatoes in a cool and dark place, they will continue to ripen until they go bad or are brought below 12.5 �C (54.5 �F).

Once a tomato is fully ripe you can store them in your refrigerator for a week. Tomatoes stored in the refrigerator will loose taste, so it's best to use them as fast as you can.

Always store shallow and out of sunlight. Wood or bamboo is the best containers, if you use other materials line it with cloth.

Alternate Storage and Use for Tomatoes

Freezing Tomatoes

Here is a suggestion for freezing them. Apparently you can do this as an alternative to canning. All you need to do before freezing is wash and dry, then place in a plastic baggies. They note there is no need to peel them as the skin will slip off when thawed. This use would be for storing tomatoes for cooking.

Here is yet another fairly simple way to keep tomatoes from going to waist. All you need to do is wash, dry, slice open, remove seeds and place in the sun single layered and not touching.

Easy Oven-drying
To use this method just slice in half, or in slices, place in the oven at 140 to 145 F and watch them carefully. Oven-drying takes 6 to 12 hours, depending on the tomato it self.

If you have a dehydrator, you can easily use it on your tomatoes.

Canning and Cooking
You can always can tomatoes, or make your favorite sauce or puree in bulk then freeze.

For more on tomato picking, storage and usage please visit the links provided below.

Drying Tomato Links: doityourself.com; about.com
Tomato Selection and Storage and Freezing: about.com; wikipedia.org; indiaagronet.com; foodreference.com;
recipezaar.com; essortment.com; missourifamilies.org

Food Storage: The Strawberry

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Now that the warmer weather has come around, nice fresh fruits are becoming plentiful and much less expensive. This is a particularity good time for strawberries, from May to June is the US strawberry season. I am using this time to stock up, after all they freeze and preserve so well. I am looking particularly froward to enjoying my cool strawberry snacks on my terrace this summer.

In order to best enjoy the fruit I save, I took time this week to do my homework. After all I am trying to budget money, and one of the best way is to manage my food budget wisely. The less waist the better, and that means picking good fruit and storing it right.

So here are the notes and instructions I have complied from my personal knowledge and the information I have found across the web. There will be a bundled link source at the end of this post for any one who want's to delve any deeper in to the strawberry world of knowledge.

Signs of a good strawberry:

  • Firm
  • Deep and shiny red skin
  • Green tops
  • Plump
  • Dry

Signs of a bad berry:
  • Green, yellow, or dark dull spots
  • A lot of white at the top
  • Moist
  • Moldy
  • Dull in color or very dark red
  • Sunburn
  • Holes or breaks in skin

Keep berries in shallow containers no more then 5 inches deep. If your pack them in tightly or stack them to high they will crush and bruise. Strawberries must stay dry until they are ready yo use or they will spoil quickly. I place mine on a tray lined with paper towels, and cover lightly in plastic. Store them in the refrigerator and use or freeze them with in a few days, prune them often. Once one berry goes bad it will quickly travel to the rest.

Washing Fresh berries for use:
This was a topic that varied, but the overall out come was organic berries rinse briskly under cool water. Where as for non organic some sights suggested soaking in slightly warm water then rinsing. The reason is that strawberries are one of the fruit more known for pesticides. the problem is if you soak strawberries they can loose some of their value and flavor. Personally, may family never have soaked them and no one ever grew and extra arm.

When you rinse strawberries, regardless of how you choose, leave the green on the top. Never use soaps or brushes on strawberries, the skins are much to fragile. Remove the green tops just before slicing, and remember not to wash berried until you are ready to use them.

Freezing Strawberries is extremely easy, all you need to do is wash them and remove the tops. Then freeze them in a single layer, do not let them touch or they will stick together. After they are fully frozen (about 14 hours) transfer them to a baggy or container for longer storage.

Of course there are other ways to freeze strawberries Some people prefer Dry-Sugar Pack, Syrup Pack, or to freeze sliced or crushed. You can find more information in the links package provided below.

Reference Pack- The Strawberry:
  1. strawberry-recipes.com
  2. howtodothings.com
  3. associatedcontent.com
  4. seedsofknowledge.com
  5. wikihow.com
  6. ehow.com
  7. pickyourown.org
  8. aces.uiuc.edu
  9. whatscookingamerica.net
  10. whfoods.com

Tools: Enso and Alarm Clock

Monday, April 14, 2008

I have today some thing simple yet so useful. These are two tools I use every day, they are a staple for my on line productivity. I hope they are a help to you, I know they are for me.

Enso: Spell Check

This is one of the most useful tools any one can have on their computer. It is a windows based program that checks spelling on or off line, with out damaging formating. I have used this program to check everything from forms to my blog posts and Photoshop text.

It also offers a dictionary and thesaurus, but they are web based, so you need an internet connection to use them.

Second I have an On line Alarm Clock.

It is just what it says it is, you get the time and an easy to set alarm clock for when you really only have 15 minuets, and you mean it.


Food Rookie: Stock and Broth

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A great way to save both time and money when making meals is to use home made stock or broth. They are easy to make and a great way to keep from waisting. I keep a scrap bag to make my broth and stocks. Below I will list the four kinds I make and what I store in my scrap bags to make them with.

A scrap bag is simply a zip lock bag I store food bits in as I cook. If you cook often, you can store it in the refrigerator. If you don't get the time to cook as often as you like, I suggest keeping it all frozen so it doesn't spoil before you can make your supply of broth or stock.

For all Broths and Stocks, you can follow these very simple beginner steps to making them.

  • When your bag is ready empty it all in a large pot, fill with water and boil.
  • The pot should be half way full of scraps and all the way full of water, only leaving room to not spill when it reaches a hard boil.
  • When it has boiled down about half way, it should be done.
  • The ingredients in the pot should be mushy and falling apart, strain them out of the liquid and discard them.
  • Place the liquid in to jars or freezing containers but do NOT place them in to the freezer until it has come to room temperature.
  • After the stocks and broths are frozen you can easily remove the fat by scraping it off the top.
  • With broth want more meat then vegetables saved in the scrap bag.

Here is what I save for each stock and broth I make.

Chicken Broth
  • Carrots, save skins from peeling and the ends.
  • Onions, save the layers you peel before slicing and the ends.
  • Celery, save the leaves and the fat ends.
  • Chicken bones, skin, and fat trimmings.

Beef Broth
  • Carrots, save skins from peeling and the ends.
  • Onions, save the layers you peel before slicing and the ends.
  • Celery, save the leaves and the fat ends.
  • Garlic ends
  • Beef Bones, fat, and trimmed off meat scraps.
  • Leek greens and ends

Fish Broth
  • Shrimp Shells
  • Raw fish bones
  • Carrots, save skins from peeling and the ends.
  • Onions, save the layers you peel before slicing and the ends.
  • Leek greens and ends
  • Garlic ends

Vegetable Stock
  • Carrots, save skins from peeling and the ends.
  • Onions, save the layers you peel before slicing and the ends.
  • Celery, save the leaves and the fat ends.
  • Garlic ends
  • Beef Bones, fat, and trimmed off meat scraps.
  • Leek greens and ends
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower ends and leaves
  • Cabbage stems and outer leaves
  • Tomato ends
Any non-starchy vegetable scrap I will add to this stock, using the ends, leaves, and stems. I do not use roots that stick off the ends, seeds, or anything I know that has a bitter taste when boiled.

Be sure to wash well all Vegetable parts you use, and if your not buying organic, discard the very outer layer.

Food Storage: The Onion

Many people like to buy in bulk, but we shy away from produce. After all produce goes bad fast and we cant always use it in a weeks time. Luckily there are some things you can do to extend the life of your produce.

Today I'm going to share with you a storage technique for onions that not only makes them last for moths at a time, but helps leave valuable storage room for other items. My simple onion storage technique is a modification of the classic onion sock.

All you need is a hook or nail, a clips, and a stocking or pantyhose.
You can recycle clean used nylons, or go out and buy a pair for this project.

To use the onion sock, simply load the onions in to the nylon, try to keep them in single file. Then put a knot in the toe part, and a clip on the open end to hold it shut.

Attach the nylon to a wall, pole, or ceiling out of the sun and away from moisture, by the knotted toe section.

You now have a reusable onion storage sock that will keep your tasty onions fresh for up to two months.

Just a few notes:

  • If you have pantyhose, cut the legs off you don't need the rest.
  • You can use old clothing pins, twist ties, rope or any thing else, to space each onion if you cant get them to stay in a single row.
  • Spacing onions will also help them stay even longer

Computer Gadgets: MP3 mix

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Muxtape: a simple way to create and share your songs.

This is a cute little tool lets you make a mix tape from your MP3 you can access via your specific URL.

It's easy and because your not making it for other people to down load your not going to go to jail for it. If you want some one els to hear your tape, just send them the URL.

To find out more check out Muxtape on their page.

Muxtape click here for link: Muxtape

My Food Shopping Commandments

There are a few simple things I have learned over the last year on how to really make the money stretch. One of them is not spending a lot of money on extras I will never use. This is a great thing to learn, and has helped me significantly in saving money for things I can really enjoy.

The one area I was struggling with, even until a few months ago, was food shopping. It's such a crime when I buy an item with out a plan and it goes to waist. I took some time to go over information I found on how to curve your impulse buying, and applied it to my food shopping with great success.

Here are the simple laws I have set for my self with great success.

Always shop with a list
With a list you know what you need, and your less likely to roam around the store getting pulled in to the displays of food.

Use Cash
Never walk in a store armed with your debit / credit card!
The dollar or two for the ATM may save you 10 or 20 at the check out line. It's always easier to budget money you can feel, see and count on the spot.

Budget the trip
Bring just enough money and leave your wallet in the car.
If it's so important you really need it, then your just going to have to come back and get it after you go to the car. Ah yes, lazy vs impulse, it's a great way to counter each other.

Know the prices!
Make a list of the things you often use.
Break the prices down per unit of weight not containers. This way you know how much the product is not the packaging.

Carry a calculator!
This will help keep you from getting fooled by items that say on sale, but when you break it down to unit, often are not worth your time.

Keep count
I keep a monthly tally of how much I spent on food and groceries, with a special note on how much of it is eating out and snacks. Do this for two months and see how quickly you realize it's time to start bagging lunch. Also note the effort of recording everything made me buy less, it's the lazy vs impulse thing again.

Well, thats my few quick tips for grocery shopping, hope it helps!

Fun Stuff: Armed and Mustard

Friday, April 11, 2008

OK, I just couldn't resist showing this little find off.

How better to gear up for spring then with a condiment gun!

Thats right, a gun that shoots ketchup and Mustard, imagine the fate of your kids clothing when they find them.

Find the gun and the full story about it at firebox.com, a gadget store site full of fun things to waist money you don't have on.

Condiment gun link here: Firebox Condiment Gun

Health - 10,000 steps

So there is this US website called Shape up America, and it's based to help fight obesity. They have a special section aimed for child obesity and a new all age program called 10,000 steps. This is not the first gimmick the government has sponsored to help get people in shape, and by no means will it be the last.

So what makes this one so special that I am adding it to my blog?

Simply, this is one that finally makes since!
Yes that's right, they found a way to make people to busy or lazy to get in shape, do some movement and with out any expensive equipment or dedicating time to work out.

The simplicity to this program can be summed up in three steps:

1) Buy a Pedometer
2) put it on every day
3) take 500 more steps then you did last week.

A pedometer is simply a step counter, they are low cost, some times less then 5 usd, and easy to get. Amazon, Walmart and most pharmacies carry them, and they are small and easy to use.

Taking 500 steps may seem like a lot, but going from your car to the bathroom in your job then to your desk or work station is probably about 300 steps. I started this program already and in just a few weeks with out dieting or any additional exercise, I have lost about 3 pounds.

It may not seem like a lot, but I ate ice cream for desert for a whole week, literally!
Take a look and give it a try, it can't hurt and wont cost you more then a few cups of coffee.

10,00 steps program link here: http://www.shapeup.org/shape/steps.php

Amazon Pesometers Link here: Amazon Pedometer List

Food Rookie: Cool Strawberry Snack

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I bought a large 2 kilo package of fresh strawberries a few weeks ago for a really great price.
Now for those of you who don't know metric, 2 kilo is about 5 pounds of strawberries. Thats a lot of berries for two people to eat before they spoil.

This forced me to make a plan to save my berry investment! After all it's not a deal if you throw out more then you use, so I decided to freeze a good portion of strawberries. It may not seem odd to everyone, but freezing fruit is some thing I have never done in my house.

I had to go on line to see how it was done correctly. Luckily all you do is wash, trim, and freeze flat, after frozen transfer to a bag and save. Awesome, now I have 4 pounds of frozen strawberries!

What is a frozen strawberry good for?

I didn't know ether, but I found out!
You see it turns out that when you have nothing better to do your boredom can be an inspiration. I went to the kitchen and tossed some berries and milk in the blender with a spoon full of vanilla extract. It was delicious! So here is my recipe for frozen strawberry smoothies!


  1. 5 frozen strawberries per person (large but not HUGE)
  2. milk
  3. Vanilla extract
  4. sweetener (optional)

Simple as it can be, all you need is a blender and a cup!

Place berries in blender (or cup if you have a hand blender)
Cover with milk, add vanilla and blend smooth.
After mixed taste and sweeten as needed.

I used a fake sugar and light milk, and it was wonderful and thick. Feel free to use sugar and any milk you want, the frozen berries is what makes it thick.

It's like a creamy smoothy daiquiri kind of drink, I hope you enjoy!

Computer Gadgets - Music by mood

Recently I have discovered a new music streaming program.
In simple terms, play free music with out having to download songs, it's totally free and legal.

This is NOT a new concept, but what caught my attention was that this site randomly picks songs for you according to the types of music you allow and the mood your in.

If you register you can save favorites, and ban songs from ever being played again.

Music Mood Streaming Player: Link here

Food Rookie: Cream of Vegetable Soup

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Food Rookie series will be made up of low cost, high nutrition, easy cook meals.

One of the first lessons I learned when I moved out was food costs money!

It sounds silly to say that, but living at my parents it was easy to spring for the pizza and still cover all debts.

Now that I'm across an ocean from the warmth that was mooching, I have learned the true expense of my simple passion for food. So what better way to start off this blogg with a food post!

Moving to the center of Europe you learn how to cook from scratch, but being American I know the value of taking short cuts. These are the middle ground meals I have come across thus far in my kitchen experiments, I hope you enjoy!

Healthy Cream of Vegetable Soup


  1. 1 liter Stock, water, or broth
  2. 1 small onion
  3. 1 small celery stalk
  4. 1 small carrot
  5. 3 cups broccoli and cauliflower florets
  6. 1 small potato
  7. chicken bouillon cube or powdered soup mix
  8. 1 cups Milk
Serves about 4-6 people

This recipe is easy as it gets, the only tools you need is a spoon, blender (hand or stick blender preferred) and a pot to cook it in.

Cut all ingredients in to pieces, the smaller you cut them the quicker it finishes.
Boil all but the milk and bouillon in a pot until very tender.
Add bouillon to taste, stir then let boil about 5 more min to mix well.
Remove from heat, add milk and blend well.

The reason I like this soup is that you can easily adapt it to anything you have on hand.
I have made this soup with leek, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and assortments of left over vegetable scraps.

If you want to be healthy use a light milk 1% or 2% works fine. The potato and veggies them selves thicken the soup.

If you want to be bad, use cream!

This recipe can also have any kind of cheese added to it in the blending step for an extra punch.
Use spices Like Bay, whole pepper corns or Thyme when boiling to change and add flavors. This is a hearty and healthy beginners soup that will definitely stretch your dollar in the food budget!