front porch trash

front porch trash

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I love Mexican food!!!
But I can't always go to Los Margaritas for the best Mexican food in the world area. Limited funds prevent me from eating out much any more.

But I have found an alternative that will do for now.  Home made fajitas...YUM

The seasoning mix I found on the internet (Chickens in the Road) is very good, has low sodium and is good in lots of other dishes. I made the mix and stored it in a recycled jar and I never measure, I just dump some in until the color is good. Taste....then dump some more if needed.( Dump is truly a Southern term to be used in moderation.) Great on chicken, steak or ground beef.

I would really love to add peppers to the mix, but alas, no one in my family likes peppers but me. So I have to wait until I go to Los Margaritas for truly peppery, oniony fajitas.

Here is what you need to make awesome fajitas.

2 Tbs cornstarch
4 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp sugar (optional, I don't add any)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper(or more if you like HOT)
1/2 tsp cumin
Mix everything together with a fork in a glass bowl. Store in a baggie, jar or spice bottle.

This little jar holds the fajita mix X 3.
Average use is about 2 Tbs of mix. Use according to your taste.

Tonight I had a pack of thin cut round steak (on sale for $1.57) that I cut into 1/8 inch diameter strips and cut each strip about 1 1/2 inch long. Toss those in your skillet with a pinch of olive oil and as many onions as you like. And I wish I could toss in peppers now, but no one will eat them. Grrrrr.... Stir fry until meat and onions are done, about 7 to 8 minutes.

While the meat/onions are cooking chop up some lettuce, get out the tortillas, sour cream, cheese, salsa and anything else you like on your fajitas.

Almost ready
Warm up your tortillas and fill to the brim. Sometimes I make homemade tortillas, but I was in a hurry today and used store bought. I know, I gave myself 3 demerits for that.
Dig in.....I can have this cooked and ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. Not bad for a quick Mexican fix. Just as good with chicken as beef.

Monday, June 27, 2011


After working for almost 20 years at the same job and then losing it (in more ways than one) and having to find a new direction in life, I am all about fast and easy.

After several years in school to get some learnin' I have finally found a job(not THE perfect job, but A job). My work hours are much more stringent than when I was in school and I need to come up with something to eat FAST when I get home. Most of my days are 12pm to 6pm. But I never get to leave on time because after the last patient leaves there are still things to do to close up for the day.

Sometimes I get really energetic and make a casserole for dinner that my SweetiePie can pop it in the oven and it will be done when I get home. But, I am not a big fan of casseroles and I don't rely on that route more than once a week. Now, SweetiePie loves HamburgerHelper. Me, I can't stand that stuff. All preservatives and pasta and meat. I like the pasta but could do without the preservatives and meat.

I had been looking for an alternative for the Stuff when I came across a recipe from Chickens in the Road and tried it out. It turned out better than the original and I have used it to mix up lots of sauce packets to have on hand for a quick meal. I have even tried it with TVP and it came out just as good. My SweetiePie does not like TVP, will not eat TVP and will refuse to try anything with TVP. But, what he doesn't know will not hurt him. So, I have been slowly adding less meat and a dash or two of TVP. He hasn't commented on the dish any time I have use TVP. Since he is supposed to be on a low cholesterol diet, it couldn't hurt to cut back on red meat!!

SweetiePie has never asked what is in the one jar in my pantry that is not labeled. I'm not telling.

I have a stash of 5 different seasoning packets in my pantry that help make it convenient. I can mix all 5 up in a matter of minutes and I always have some kind of pasta on hand to finish up the recipe.

I mixed up the first batch of seasoning packets following the recipe exactly. After trying each one out I gradually added more or deleted some of the spices to better suit our tastes. The box in the back that you can't read is Corn Starch. A staple in most prepared mixes. These are much cheaper, taste better and are more healthy than prepared mixes.

So, if you are a Harried Housewife, like I am sometimes, try these mixes and see if you get to put your tired feet up a little sooner.

Friday, June 24, 2011


OK folks I have to go it alone on this one.

Is ANYONE taking the challenge seriously?

Am I crazy to think that I am the only one concerned about our local economy? Look at all of the things that are made or grown locally and see if you can't help out our neighbors. We are all suffering, believe me, and we need to help thy neighbor.

I confessed to my transgressions at IKEA, and truly it made me feel better. Time for all of you to confess. I promise I won't hold it against you.

I have managed to avoid any foreign purchases at the $store. I have been to the $store but I have read the labels and found alternatives. Did you know that most of the bagged candy, the pre-wrapped hard candy, from the $store is made in Argentina, China and Canada? I had a scratchy throat and wanted some hard candy to keep in my pocket at work and I dashed into the $store. I could not find ANY hard candy that was made in USA.

I know kids love the toys from the $store, but in my experience the ones that my grandkids get just end up at the bottom of the toy bucket and are played with for about 10 minutes in the car on the way home. Well, except for the bugs and dinosaurs....they are perfect pocket size or perfect to slip under the pillow for a good scare.

Has my challenge made you rethink your purchases? I know it has me. I am trying to be very aware of everything I buy. Like everyone else, I need to make my dollar go as far as possible.

It would be nice to hear from some of you and maybe you could share tips. If you are from another country, that's ok too. You need to support YOUR own economy.

Is anyone willing to share tips?

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Been to a big box store lately? Me neither. My heart can't take the sticker shock.

I have found that after shopping at various thrift stores for a number of years that I get the "dazed, deer in the headlights" look when I actually shop in a "real"store. How about you?

For example, at Wal-mart, you can get a pair of jeans, pants or shorts for the reasonable price of $19.99 and up.At Target, Kohls and other stores they start at about $24.99 and go up. Am I crazy because I don't want to spend $25 for a t-shirt?

At the thrift store you can get a pair of jeans or pants for $3.49 and shorts are $1.39. And as I have stated before, everything in both stores have touched someone else's bum. Learn how to use the washing machine people!! The previously stated prices are for our local Goodwill and some local  TS have prices lower than that. Sometimes I find pants for $3.49 and they are buy one get one free. Sometimes I find shorts and t-shirts 4 for $1.00.And TS are just like big box stores, they have something for everyone from high-end stuff to just plain junk. You just have to look.

I must admit that I have trouble finding clothing at a TS in my size. I don't like clothes that are tight and I don't really want polyester. So I have the option of finding something that I kinda like and can live with or going to the mall and spending my entire paycheck on one pair of pants and still kinda like them.

I had to update my wardrobe recently and had to spend ....gasp...retail because I needed scrubs that were a certain color and they needed to look professional. Not faded and worn, like jeans. Still, at retail price I searched for bargains. 

I have never been the type person that got rid of all of their clothes each season just because they were last years "look". But I am grateful to those of you out there that must renew your wardrobe each year. Please be kind and take it to my local Goodwill or TS and save me some money. I'll call with the address if you want.

Oh, and while you are donating please be sure to grab some of your gold jewelry, vintage collectables and high end kitchen gadgets. I just love a bargain and the prices on ebay have gone up so much that I need to buy some cheap stuff to sell.

Thank you ...thank you very much.(best Elvis voice)

Monday, June 20, 2011


Went on a road trip this week and somehow the car just kept stopping at thrift stores. Must be that pesky has a mind of its own.

Charlotte is in a different Goodwill district than Raleigh and they do things different. The first difference is that there are rest rooms in the stores. I'm sure that all the moms with little kids appreciate that. My kids are all grown up but I remember what a pain it was to go to Goodwill and then have to leave to go to the bathroom.

Charlotte also has a Goodwill outlet where everything is $1.59 a pound and they have Value Village.

I have never seen grown ups act like they did at the Goodwill outlet. Every few minutes they bring out a new bin of things to grab. And I do mean grab. These bins are about four feet wide and10-12 feet long and piled high with all sorts of stuff. The bins are put in an area marked by a blue line on the floor. Toes must stay behind the blue line until the employee "releases" the bin. (Probably to save his life, because those women looked mean.) The staff tries to divide the clothes and household items but when everyone is grabbing anything and everything you can't tell what is going on. My daughter, Smarta**, said, "reminds me of feeding the chickens" and she is right on the money. Hey folks, act like civilized adults!!!

Value Village is a great place. They mark things down to sell and they have "grab bags" filled with all sorts of small stuff. Looks like they throw all the little stuff in a big tub and then just fill bags at random with things. The two Value Villages we visited were clean with wide aisles and lots of things to pick through. And....they mark stuff down. There are usually two color tags that are 50% and 75% off. Their grab bags are from 80 cents to $1.80 and filled to the brim. And did I mention, unlike the Goodwill in our area, Value Village marks stuff down.

Here are a few things I found
These toys were less than a dollar each.
This was a bag of Fisher Price Little People, a calf, a Weebles Wocking Horse and a Fisher Price Poodle. Love the poodle hair.
I think these are part of a playschool set. I need to research. The two horses are Beyer. Love the carrots and wheel barrow. Look at those cute little mice.
This was my favorite find of the week. A cassette carousel holder from the 70's. In perfect condition and every speck of dirt from the 70's until now is still covering the holder.
Three Ralph Marlin ties and silk and leather suspenders or braces. Somehow I don't see wearing a tie shaped like a fish.......but I guess there is a proper time for it.

And this set of Young Folks Library stories. I have nine and Myths and Legends are missing, to make a complete set of 10. Even if I don't find the missing volume the graphics are fantastic, from the early 50's. The price was right.
A Wilton Barbie Doll cake pan, never used not in box. A Chinese tea cup with lid. A beautiful deep orange, burnt sienna. And a hotsling, size three.

And finally, my only jewelry purchase. One is real, one is not.  The turquoise is fake and the gold leaf and pearl are real. I am a sucker for turquoise and I knew it wasn't real. I didn't find any markings on the gold leaf, but he pearl is real.

Hope everyone had good thrifting karma this weekend.

I am linking to Apron Thrift Girl's Monday Thrift Share.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I have the next few days free, as in no hours at work, lots of stuff to do and stressed to my eyeballs and beyond.

Daughter and I are headed to Charlotte tomorrow. She wants to go to IKEA and I am along for the ride. How can I not purchase anything at IKEA? It's such a cool place. I have the absolute best drying rack ever that I purchased at IKEA last year. It will hold a whole load of undies, including socks with room to spare and folds up so nice and neat. I use it in the winter when I can't put things on the line and we are at the bottom of the undies stack.

I will try to be good and not purchase anything that I can't live without. I mean, how can you go to IKEA and not purchase something?

If you ever get the chance to go to yuppie central, I mean IKEA, it will amaze you. Most of the things I just enjoy looking at, but they have some neat stuff.

And what is with all caps IKEA? Even the sign at the exit to IKEA, IKEA is all in caps. And of course IKEA is on IKEA Blvd.

My mantra is Made in the USA, Made in the USA...(Do you hear the Boss?)


Just returned from our little treck to IKEA.  Had great time and tried not to spend much money. That wasn't hard since I don't have much to spend.

First, I promised my daughter, Smarta**, that I would set the record straight. Yes, dear I know that IKEA is an anagram. For what I don't know. And yes, dear daughter, the road sign is not all in caps. Ikea Blvd. I was wrong, you were right. There, I have eaten my crow.

I ended up only purchasing three things:  dinnerware for the little Princess for Christmas, paper cupcake liners and NEW clothes pins.  I'm such an exciting person.....NOT.

 Where was all of this wonderfulness made? I really fell off the wagon this time. The children's dinner ware is made in Vietnam, the clothes pins are made in India and the cup cake liners are made in Japan.

If you need me I'll be sitting in the corner with my head down. I hurt it when I fell off the wagon.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


No, it's not my anniversary. It is my parents, or it would have been their 77th anniversary today.

I don't know how they did it. I guess they were from the era where you made things work and just lived with it. I never saw my parents fight, but they did have a few serious discussions with strong voices. Mom was the strong one and Dad was the quiet one, at least most of the time. Sometimes they reversed their roles, and somehow they knew just when it would work.

Dad has been gone since 1986 and Mom has been gone since 2005. I miss them every day. Mom called Dad Doodle sometimes and I never heard Dad call Mom anything but by her given name. I know they are back together, forever.

I just hope I can make things work like they did. And yes SweetiePie and I very rarely fight, but we do have lots of those serious discussions with strong voices.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Not long ago a facebook friend asked who dried their laundry on an old fashioned clothes line.

Not only is it a good way to save money, it makes your laundry smell wonderful.Your clothes don't shrink, for real. Less wear and tear than being tumbled in the dryer. Of course if you leave your darks out too long they will fade. And some spots will bleach out in the sun if you soak them in lemon juice.

About three years ago we installed a clothes line on our deck using tall fence posts and bolting them to the deck posts. I love going out and hanging clothes up because it is so convenient. If I had to take them down to the yard it would be 21 steps to the ground. Laundry is heavy. I am old. At least my body is.

I have eight lines that are 16' long. More than enough for 5 loads of clothes for two people.My daughter and I share the lines. She hangs hers up from the left and I hang mine up from the right. She has left hand clothes pins and I have right hand clothes pins. didn't think I was going to show you my undies did ya?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Don't you just love to get up early in the morning while the house is quiet and still? Before all of the noise overwhelms you and you have to get busy with life? Ahhh...  a nice quiet morning.

Wait...what is that in the hall?  A dark blob of something.  A cat toy? A stray sock? Cardboard from the scratching box?'s a regurgitated hairball. What a lovely way to start the day.

We have one cat. My daughter, who is "visiting" for a while, has three cats. One cat stays in her rooms and the other two come and go all over the house. I don't know who left me the lovely hairball, but I cleaned it off the carpet.

I reached for my handy, dandy all purpose cleaner. Homemade of course.
Recycled bottle of course
It's not the first time I have had to use the APC for a hairball, or worse.If you have cats with long hair, like a Norwegian Forest Cat, you know what a dangler is and it has to be cleaned up.

That got me to thinking that the all purpose cleaner might be a recipe to share. I mix up a bottle at the time and usually use an empty spray bottle from something else. This was a really old spray bottle from some cleaner. The older the bottle, the better the sprayer, for some strange reason.

All Purpose Cleaner
1 tsp borax
2 Tbs vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp washing soda
1/2 tsp liquid soap
2 cups very hot water

I mix everything with the hot water in a glass mixing cup, let cool and pour into the spray bottle. Will keep longer than it takes to use it all up. You could mix and store in an old vinegar jug, but it is honestly so simple to make I just make it as I need it. If you want a extra strong cleaner you can double the borax, vinegar and washing soda. I don't double the liquid soap because of the rinsing issue. Write the recipe on the spray bottle and you don't have to look up the recipe.

I use vinegar because it has a neutralizing effect on cat accidents.
I also use Dawn liquid soap because of the anti-bacterial  and grease cutting abilities.
Much cheaper than what was originally in my bottle, and probably some of the same ingredients, minus the unpronounceable chemical names.

Go....clean something. And if you run out of things to clean I can give you my address.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I love it when SweetiePie has a great idea. Like when he needs "new" pants or shorts and suggests that we stop at the thrift store. Be still my heart.

This Goodwill is famous for not having much in the way of housewares, my area, and great pants for him. However, this time I found something too.
I love the Swiss Chalet pattern. I remember it from when I was growing up. A grocery store where we shopped had it as a "premium" and then you could buy the serving pieces. The only thing that survived was the serving bowl without the lid. Looks like a mixing bowl and is a beautiful aqua. Ever since I have been trying to find a set for me. I now have the serving bowl, with lid, one plate and now two of these platters. I once found almost a complete set in a thrift on vacation. Each piece was 29cents!!! I could not figure out how I would get the set home since I was in Reno at the time and on my way back to San Francisco and then had to fly home. Curses, foiled again.
I have never found another set, just a piece here and there that I scooped up.

I also love the little Shawnee Laughing Elephant Cream Pitcher. I think I may have to keep it because I know two little Princess that would love it for their tea parties.

I'm linking to Apron Thrift Girl for her Monday Thrift Share

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Yeah... we got our tax refund in the mail. State tax refunds can not be direct deposited so you have to stand by the mail box and wait.
Yeah... we got interest on our refund...77cents.

What am I going to do with all of that interest?
I can buy 1/5 a gallon of gas.
Just a smidgen over 1/5 gallon of milk. I can't buy a pint or quart because a pint is over a dollar and a quart is over $2.
A candy bar from the dollar store. 69cents plus tax. Wow I'll have change left over. Maybe if they give me my change all in pennies I will get a wheat penny and it will be worth 50cents and I will get ahead. Fat chance.
One green pepper OR one lemon from the grocery store.
About 1/3 an ice cream bar from an ice cream truck in your neighborhood...good luck with that.
38 1/2 % of a $2 lottery ticket or 77% of a $1 lottery ticket.

I also won the lottery...I use the term WON loosely.
I won $2 on a $2 ticket.

The challenge issued on June 1st is going well. I have been able to avoid buying anything that is not American made. All of the food that I have purchased has been grown in the USA, all of the clothing I have purchased has been purchased either at a yard sale or Goodwill. Now you may scoff and say that the clothing in Goodwill is made everywhere. True, but when it is resold the money stays in the local community. So since it is my challenge, and I made the rules, I am counting that as buying local. So there...

The only thing I have been unable to purchase locally grown or produced is gas for my vehicle. The only way that I could do that is if I rode a horse to work. But I would have to purchase a horse first, locally of course. Our local homeowners associaion will allow us to keep 2 1/2 horses on our property. Never mind that most of the property is only suitable for a billy goat.

  Hey....there's an idea...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I originally thought of the salt of the earth as the title. But I don't put dirt in my seasoned

I am on a quest to make our meals better. Less fat, less sugar, less salt and less purchased quick mixes. (hamburger helper, instant seasoning packets and the like) Now, I don't have anything against fat, salt, or sugar. My SweetiePie has been pouring it on for years. It has finally caught up with him. But in my effort to make our meals healthier I have to be sneaky. We won't get into my sneaky use of TVP, just in case he ever reads this. What he doesn't know won't hurt him. Right?

I love seasoned salt. I found a great combination of spices that has less salt than the commercial brands. I use sea salt now which is supposed to contain less sodium, and I can't tell the difference in taste. The first time I made this seasoned salt recipe I didn't really like the taste. Then I tweaked it a bit (don't I always) and now I love it. I use it very sparingly on meat because I want the taste of the spices, not the salt.

Here is my recipe:

Seasoned Salt
4 tbs salt, sea salt or low sodium salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp curry powder (I didn't use this, didn't have any)
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery seed (I doubled this because I like celery seed)
1 tbs dried parsley flakes
Put everything in blender or mini food processor and blend until everything is a fine powder.
I store mine in a recycled/reused plastic spice jar with a sprinkle lid on the counter next to the stove so it is always handy.

I like to sprinkle on pork chops, hamburgers, and chicken and let it sit for a few minutes before cooking. I also add it to bread crumbs when I coat fish for oven cooking.

YUM... Time to get sneaky!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I am into recycling. I admit it. I enjoy finding ways to recycle things that can be used again before they finally get into the trash and then the landfill. I have always believed that recycling was more than just separating the trash and taking it for recycling. Get your mind into it and you can solve lots of recycling issues.

I had seen glasses and planters and wind chimes and all sorts of thing made from glass bottles. Well, I did my part. I emptied IBC bottles (black cherry is the best) and wine bottles(someone had to step up) and any kind of interesting bottles I could find or get from family members. Then I went in search of something that would cut the bottles into the shapes I wanted.

The bottle cutters I found... I didn't like...Kinda flimsy. I decided I needed a wet saw. Not an expensive one. I just wanted a cheap one to experiment with. Yard sale? Looked and looked and didn't find one. Thrift store? looked and looked and didn't find one. Harbor Freight had a cheap one but it was $ way....just to experiment with.

Meanwhile, I had collected bottles. Lots of bottles. Over a hundred bottles. Lots of boxes of bottles.
SweetiePie was not happy. "Do something or get rid of those bottles." I pleaded and drug my feet for as long as I could until I finally had to do something. So off to the recycle bin went the glass bottles. Well, almost all of them. I still have a dozen or so stashed away. But still no wet saw.

Until this weekend....I found one and it works and it was only $5 at a yard sale almost at my back door.

Sometimes Good Thrift Karma takes a while to find you.

Monday, June 6, 2011





I have been working about every other Saturday since I started my new job. It seems like on the Saturdays that I haven't been working it has either been I was too tired, too much to do or it rained. This week end was perfect. I got to sleep late, until 6:30, I went to yard sales and no rain.

Now for all of you out there that love to spend money at the mall you might as well stop reading this blog right now. I, for one, detest do not like the mall. I would say hate, but my Mom said that was a very strong word that you shouldn't use. I had much rather hunt for a bargain at the thrift store or a yard sale.

I once worked with a very high maintenance woman. She was shocked at the things I would buy at yard sales and thrift stores. Now mind you I never buy undies or used cosmetics at yard sales or thrifts stores and everything I buy is washed, most of the times more than once, before it ever touches my body. I pointed out to her that the clothes she tried on in the high end stores had most likely been tried on by someone else before she tried them on. Gasp!!! they were not new!! And I bet she never came home from the store and tossed all of her new purchases in the wash before she wore them. But I digress.

I did find some great things this week end. Some I plan on reselling, some are for me and some are for my little princesses.
A wire basket, a non-aerosol oil pump, glass jars and tupperware tools for me. A bee hive syrup dispenser with pink top and aluminum measuring cup for resale.
An atomic design dessert bowl and Fenton hobnail sugar bowl for resale.I haven't been able to find the name of the dessert bowl  pattern. Any clues?
Two complete needlework kits, a box of vintage children's birthday cards for resale.
A vintage Towncraft make up case, the Nini Ricci dusting powder box (empty) was free inside the case.resale
Two Pyrex cornflower blue pie plates and a Shenandoah mixing bowl for resale.
And this beautiful, hand painted silk scarf from Japan for resale. The lady I purchased the scarf from whispered in my ear that her husband brought it back for her from Japan.

Not a bad week end for the bargains and the fun of finding treasures. Hope everyone found some great stuff this week end.
I am linking my finds to ApronThriftGirl's Monday Thrift Share,

Saturday, June 4, 2011


At least this post isn't about food......but it's the next door neighbor.

I like coffee. I don't drink very much coffee during the week because my SweetiePie won't eat breakfast at home. He likes to go up to his favorite hangout for breakfast and since he's not out chasing women or at a bar, I don't have a problem with his breakfast vice. If I drink too much coffee it kinda upsets my stomach and so I usually drink tea most mornings.

I read over on Apron Thrift Girl's blog about cold filtered coffee. After some more research I decided to try the cold brewed process.Of course I had to find a cheap, recycled way to do this.

This process makes a cold process concentrated liquid that you store in the fridge and reheat as much as you want when you want. I found online instructions using  recycled items to make a simple brewing system.
I had two large styrofoam cups from fast food and customized them for the cold filter system. Save the two lids from both cups. One stays whole and one has a circle cut out of the center to fit the bottom of the cup. You'll see why in later pics. The lid on the left has had the center cut out. The cup on the left has lots of  small holes punched in the bottom to allow the water to drain out. Not so many so the bottom tears out, but just enough to let the water drain.

Now stack your two cups together, the one with the holes inside the unaltered one. Add your coffee of choice. I used one cup of a Colombian blend coffee.  Keep in mind that you are making a concentrate and you need lots of coffee to make a strong brew. In hindsight I should have used more coffee, about 1 1/2 cups because my brew is a little weak. Next time I'll use more.  Now add water. I just used plain tap water. You could use distilled or spring water, but I don't buy bottled water because it is just water with a name.Make sure your cups are securely stacked together. Fill your top cup with water.
Pop the unaltered lid on top.
Now put you cups in a place where they won't be disturbed. I got paranoid about the coffee leaking out where the two cups were stacked and I put the cups in a bowl. The only coffee that I spilled was when I picked the cup up to put in the bowl....go figure.

Now, comes the hard part. Wait.....wait.....wait.....about 24 hours to let your coffee "brew". You can put it in the fridge, but I didn't and had no problems.
The next day you can separate the two cups. Now is where the lid you cut the hole in is handy.
Separate the two cups and let the water drain into the bottom cup.
After the drain of coffee slows down, slip the lid with the hole over the bottom cup and let the cup on top drain into the bottom.
Now in theory this works great. I guess I had too much water and the top cup ended up sitting in the water/coffee and didn't finish draining. The hole was too big. I dug around in my junk drawer and found this handy dandy little veggie can drainer from the $tore and used that instead.
This worked better than the lid that I cut too big a hole in. are almost done. Remove the top cup that should have about 90% of the grounds and dump them out. You can rinse your cup out and reuse if you want to make another batch. Recycle...and...Reuse. The bottom cup has you coffee concentrate. There may be a little sludge in the bottom that you don't want to transfer to your storage bottles.You need to transfer it to a jar or something that you can easily store in the fridge. I had these two really cute penguin bottles sitting around and I used them. My batch made about 1 3/4 penguin.About 20 ozs.

Aren't they cute?
Stash these in the fridge, they don't mind the cold.

To make my cup of coffee I used 1/4 cup of concentrate (heated in the coffee cup in the microwave) and finished filling  the cup with hot water from my kettle. I used a regular sized mug for my initial mixture to guage the correct amount of concentrate to use.

This method of cold brewing makes a really good cup of coffee with no bitter, acid taste at all and didn't upset my stomach either. I don't think I would make coffee this way all of the time, but it is convenient when you just want one cup and don't want an upset stomach.The concentrate keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Now sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee and maybe a muffin....or two.

Friday, June 3, 2011


What is it with cooking this week?

I seem to be on a cooking spree. It could be that I am working late every nite this week and cooking is on my mind. Or rather short cuts that help us get to the eating part of dinner much quicker.

Earlier this week I wanted, needed, had to have chicken enchiladas. The recipe that I have calls for cream of chicken soup mix. If you are watching your sodium, cream of chicken is not a healthy alternative. Most cream soup mixes seem to be a salt lick.  I had found a recipe a while ago for a make ahead mix that allowed you to control the amount of salt in the mixture. I had not tried it but now was a good time. I had a newly acquired half gallon storage jar that was begging for something to store.

I tried the recipe, but of course I had to tweak it to my tastes. I don't like the flavored bouillon because it is so salty. The recipe makes 3 cups of dried mix.(I doubled the recipe) It takes 1/3 cup mix and 1 1/4 cup of liquid to make the same amount as a purchased can of cream soup. A substantial savings, even with the powdered milk.
Those specks are bits of chicken from the chicken stock.

Cream Soup Mix
2 cups powdered milk
2/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Toss everything into your mixer bowl and mix for a minute or two. Or better yet toss it into your blender or food processor and pulverize away.
Store in an airtight container.
Use 1/3 cup mix and 1 1/4 cup liquid.(I wrote the recipe on the lid of my jar.) Cook on stove top for 3-4 minutes, until mixture is thick,stirring frequently. Or you can cook in the microwave for 5 minutes, stirring every minute until thick.

To make my condensed chicken soup I used 1 1/4 cup of homemade chicken stock I had in the fridge and 1/4 tsp of bullion. I really could have left the powdered bouillon out but it gave it a nice, rich yellow color and I liked that. If I had thought about it I could have used a drop of yellow food coloring, but didn't think of it.If you don't use chicken stock, water is fine. I just had some chicken stock.

The original mix recipe called for chicken bouillon to be added to the entire mix. I did not want to limit my condensed soup to just chicken, although that is what I use the most. I wanted to be able to have a basic mix and make whatever kind of soup I needed when I needed it and not have beef, chicken and vegetable mix sitting around. The most expensive part of this mix is the nonfat powdered milk and I felt leaving the bouillon out was a way to be more versatile, economical and control the salt content.

If you use cream of onion or celery or cheese soup in cooking this would be perfect to use on a regular basis or keep on hand for an emergency when you run out of cream of soup. For celery, use 1/4 cup chopped celery or grind up some celery seeds, about 1/4 tsp. For onion you could use 1/4 cup fresh or add more powdered onion. For cheese, about 1/2 cup of grated cheese should be enough. Experiment to find what works best for your recipe.

Mix on...

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Sometimes the best things are discovered by accident. At least some of my best finds have been totally accidental.

That happened this week.

I was busy cooking on my day off and decided to have chicken enchiladas for dinner. No problem. Fresh chicken in the fridge, can of sauce in the enchilada sauce. That means no chicken enchiladas for dinner. What will I do? What will I do?

A quick dash to the computer and a favorite web site, Chickens in the Road, and check out their great from scratch recipes.The link is over there------->
  Yeah!!!! homemade enchilada sauce.
I had all of the spices in the cabinet and a can of tomato sauce in the pantry. All set. And it was fantastic, even if I do say so myself. I can't take credit for the recipe, but it was some good stuff.

Yes, I will be glad to share the recipe. According to the website the sauce can be canned very easily also if you want to make a bunch ahead of time. This recipe made enough for dinner with about 16 oz. left over for another meal. 

Enchilada Sauce
28oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. oregano
1Tbs. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder (or more to taste)
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper (optional)
Mix all of the spices into the tomato sauce and heat thoroughly.
I didn't add extra chili powder or salt because I liked it the way it was, but feel free to adjust to your personal taste.

My sauce was ready in 5 minutes and was just as good as canned sauce I have purchased in the past.And I have enough left for another meal or two.

Only one question.
Why haven't I done this before now?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


We all constantly hear in the news about the economy. It's's down...gas is up...gas is down...groceries are up...groceries are up....

What can we do to help?

Now I have enough sense to realize that what few things  I might do will have a minute effect on the economy, but if we all join together maybe we can create a ripple in the economic pond.

I was thinking (I know, it's dangerous)about all the things we buy from other countries. I have been taking a personal poll of all the foreign things I buy in one month. Believe me, its a lot. I'm not talking about all of the stuff at the $store. We all know that the majority of that stuff is from China and lots of other places overseas. I'm talking about groceries, clothes and many of the things we consume. Check out the food you buy sometimes and it will surprise you where it is from. I not talking about the fresh, out of season veggies, I'm talking about canned and prepackaged items. North Carolina was once a major textile producing area. Now I am seeing many foreign made textiles in a wide range of consumer items.

I know we can't go for a month without purchasing a single thing foreign. We all have to have gas to get to work and school and the grocery store. Can we really take a good look at what we are purchasing and do without it for just a month? I am willing to try.

Will you join me and try buying American for just one month?

Start by looking at what you are purchasing and deciding if you can do without it or find an alternative that is made in America. Better yet, find something that is made locally. It may take some looking and thinking, but I think we can do it.

I can't guarantee that we will win any prizes or awards. I know that personally I will feel better if I know I at least tried to do something.

Let me know what you have found that you were purchasing foreign and what you were able to substitute  American made and I will post an updated list. I'll try to post an updated list every Monday from now until July Fourth.

Who is up for a challenge? Double Dog Dare Ya!!