Saturday, August 30, 2008

How to Make Great Popcorn on the Stove Without a Microwave

My college daughter moved into the dorm without a microwave. She needed to learn how to make popcorn on the stove. Regular popcorn is a very cheap and affordable snack for the college student. Here are the very specific step by step instructions I gave her.

How to Make Great Popcorn On the Stove Top Without a Microwave

Serves three or four people for a whole movie.
3-quart sauce pan with lid.
Popcorn, not much (about 1/2 cup)
2 or 3 Tbs of butter or margarine (Optional)
Vegetable oil (about 2 Tbs)
Table salt
1. Turn on stove and adjust to somewhere between medium and high heat .
2. Poor vegetable oil in the pan to cover bottom and then some about 2 Tbs.
3. Place pan on stove and let heat for a minute or so.
4. In the mean time, put some butter or margarine in another pan and start it melting at low heat.
5. Cover the bottom of the pan with popcorn in a single layer about 1/2 cup. Don't add more than 1/2 cup.
6. Place the lid on the pan. The popcorn should start popping in a minute or so.
7. Once you hear the kernels start to pop, then continuously shake the pan across the burner until popping reaches a crescendo.
8. Move to a unheated burner and back to the heated burner once or twice (this is an art).
9. Move to an unheated burner when the popcorn reaches the lid and wait while it finishes popping.
10. Pour popcorn in a large bowl, pour on butter, and salt to taste. The butter and salt can be distributed by pouring the popcorn back and fourth between the bowl(s) and pan.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Republican VP Pick Looks Like Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island

This is not a political commentary at all. Just my first impression. Is it just me? Or does the Republican VP Pick Sarah Palin looks like Mary Ann From Gilligan's Island!! Mary Ann was played by the actress Dawn Wells. Compare these photos. :-)

Sarah Palin

Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island (played by Actress Dawn Wells)

Actress Dawn Wells Later in Life

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Pantry Makeover

I finally tackled cleaning and organizing my pantry. I discovered I had 3 containers of dried onions LOL. This was a job that had been needed for a long time. The shelves were falling down and about to come out of the wall. Hubby bought me new shelves. They are fantastic and such an improvement.
Pantry Partially unloaded.

Old yucky sheleves removed.
Pantry closet cleaned and freshly painted.
New Pantry Shelves. Home Depot special.

All Done! YAY :-) I can find things again.
Cute picture of one of my puppies just back from the groomers. Just because. :-) Have a great day. Deeny

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Starving College Student Survival: Biscuit Mix to the Rescue

Cooking from scratch is usually the cheapest way to go, but cooking totally from scratch is not practical for the average college student. It is also not practical to have a small dorm kitchen fully stocked with all kinds of baking supplies such as 5 lbs flour, 5 pounds sugar, baking soda, baking powder etc.

Biscuit Mix to the Rescue
A good compromise is the extremely versatile Biscuit Mix. Bisquick is a name brand, but there are also other brands such as Jiffy and Store brands. I don't like Jiffy because it uses lard or at least it use to use lard, but to tell you the truth, I haven't checked the labels lately. My store sells a store brand that is still the cheapest. Of Course there are all kinds of homemade versions but again making a homemade version isn't convenient or practical for the College Student.

As I said in my other post, it isn't wonderful whole wheat or whole grain, but it is much healthier than ready made baked goods with their high fructose corn syrup and other junk. Also it is much more affordable than buying ready made stuff.

It's real genius, however, is it's versatility. Look at all the things you can make with it and water or just a few other cheap basic staple ingredients.

My Baking Mix Recipes Index, I will be adding More Recipes as I find or create them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Basic Starter Survival Grocery List for the College Student

I moved my DD back into the college dorms today. She is in a dorm suite that has a kitchen now. This was more expensive, but we saved by not having to buy the meal plan which is outrageously expensive. I believe she can save so much more cooking for herself. We had to come up with an initial starter grocery list for her first week. She needs to cook some things from scratch, but lets face it, she is not going to be baking her own bread. Instead of supplying her kitchen with all the stuff she would need for baking, we figured a baking mix for starters would be an economical way to go. I also want her to learn to cook her own meals and not prepare too many convenience foods. We had to balance convenience, economy, and nutrition. Is it as perfectly healthy and nutritious as I wanted? Short answer no, but I think it is pretty good nutrition for the economy. It was definitely a balancing act. We had to come up with the most things we could make with the fewest amount of inexpensive ingredients. This was our first attempt. (Actually she is on her own after this and if she runs short of cash she will be a true starving student.)
Feel Free to comment any hints or helps for starving college students.

Basic Starter Survival Grocery List for the College Student

Start with this list your first week then replace weekly what you run out of. As your budget allows you can add other things. Maybe the second week buy some chicken instead of the hamburger.

1. 1 large box baking mix (Store Brand or Jiffy Brand is usually much cheaper than Bisquick. Ok it is not whole wheat or whole grain but it will suffice for now.)

( HINT: Check for recipes on back of baking box or at the baking box's website. You can usually find recipes using the baking mix for cookies, cake or cup cakes, some main dish ideas etc. (HINT: Melted margarine can be used in place of oil in almost any baking recipe)

2.   2 lbs. sugar

3.  1 loaf bread

4.  1 lb. cheddar (or 1 lb. American Cheese)

5.  1 small box powdered milk (for cooking)

6.  2 lbs reg. margarine (melted margarin can be substituted for liquid oil in most recipes)

7.  2 lbs hamburger

8.  1 lb. lunch meat

9.  2 28-oz. cans tomato sauce (or 6 or 7 8oz. cans the kind that are usually 3/ $1)

10.  3 or 5 lbs. potatoes

11.   2 lbs carrots

12.    3 lbs apples

13.   1 cabbage

14.   1 lb dry navy beans ( or 2 cans)
Remember dry beans usually have to be soaked in water overnight before use

15.   1 lbs. dry spaghetti (or Macaroni or 8 oz. of each)

16.   1 doz. eggs

17.   salt (add some seasonings as you can afford them, such as pepper, cinnamon, Italian seasoning, Chili powder, and chicken or beef bouillon cubes for flavored broths gravy's and soups etc.)

18.   Condiments can be pricey- If you eat out at fast food maybe snag a few extra catsup, mustard or mayonnaise packets. Add to your pantry when you can. Good news is condiments keep for a long time.

19.   Water is the Cheapest beverage. If the tap water is bad invest in a Brita water filter pitcher. Itwill save money in the long run. As budget allows for beverages, tea bags are cheap and can make ice tea. Fresh milk is nice, but it is pricey and if you can't drink a gallon before it goes bad, it is not worth the money. Use canned or powdered for baking. If you have to have fresh for cereal or drinking , you have to not buy more than you can drink before it goes bad. Buy milk at you discretion, calcium can be gotten in cheese and surprisingly in most beans.

20.  Later weeks you can add some canned tuna and other canned meats as your budget allows.
Tuna can be turned into tuna salad sandwiches and casserole.

21.   Later you can also buy different fruits that are in season and cheap. Apples are affordable most of the year especially in the Fall.

22.   As budget allows add more variety of vegetables. Canned vegetables are usually the cheapest, but frozen can also be a good buy. Buying too much fresh produce that goes bad before you eat it is not a good buy. Buy only carrots, potatoes and cabbage fresh as they generally last a longer time.

Things you can make from above ingredients


(HINT: make batches of biscuits, french toast or muffins on the weekend and freeze to have quick grab and go breakfasts during the week)

Pancakes with sauteed apples
Cheese biscuits
Muffins (plain, apple or spice)
French Toast (sprinkle with Cinnamon sugar instead of syrup)
eggs (not every day- you need to save some for baking)

(HINT: A big box of quick oats can be purchased as your budget allows. It keeps very well and makes a wonderful hearty cheap breakfast. you can add sauteed apples or cinnamon sugar. Sweetened package dry cereals are very pricey compared to other breakfast foods)

Lunch meat sandwiches, carrot sticks or apple, sugar cookies
Cheese Quiche
Shepherds Pie
Grilled or open face cheese sandwich
Baked potato and toppings

Mac and Cheese, Cooked apples, Cabbage Slaw
Spaghetti, garlic bread
Cheese Toasts
Hamburger Bean Soup
Hamburger Macaroni Casserole
Cheese Burger Pizzas
Chili Potatoes
Chili Mac
Beef Noodle Soup
Beef and Gravy on Mashed or Baked Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
Deviled Eggs
Cheese Potato Soup
Meatball Sandwiches
Meat Loaf
Meat Loaf Sandwiches
Potato Cabbage & Bean soup

Vegetable Dishes
Apple Slaw
Cheesy Fries
Hash Browns
Mashed Potatoes
Potato Skins
carrots raw or cooked

Apple turnovers
Baked Cinnamon apple slices (Have to buy cinnamon)
Cake, Carrot cake, or Cookies (Check baking box and Baking Box website for recipes)

Carrot Sticks
Hard boiled egg

(HINT: regular popcorn cooked the old fashioned way in a sauce pan makes a very cheap and satisfying snack food)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

GRRR What a morning. But then a tiny Miracle happened.

Ok before I rant, I have to admit I have nobody to blame but myself but still Grrrr.

       Ok school starts next Monday and students entering certain grades need certain shots. Ok I thought my youngest was all caught up. So I called the Pediatrician just to double check. I also asked them to get a copy of his shot records together for me to pick up. Well, I called this Monday and they said they would call me back. I didn't get a call Tuesday, so I called back this morning. Apparently he is missing one needed shot. They said that he has to have a physical before he gets the shot, and the earliest time they can give me is the Friday after school starts. They won't let him in school without it, so that will mean he will miss the whole first week of school. Well I know (I am pretty sure) he had this particular shot when he had to get stitches a few years ago.That was in a Hospital in a different county because we were on a camping trip at the time. However, I don't have documentation for this. I called the Hospital two counties over where he got the stitches, and asked for the medical records department. They of course won't tell me anything over the phone. They say I have to go there in person and sign a release form. That is 150 miles away and I am not 100% positive he got the shot then, I only believe he did. I called one walk in Clinic and they won't give the shot without a physical and they can't give a complete physical without his medical records. I called medical records office at the pediatricians and they are swamped and can't pull and have his records till this Friday at the earliest.  

        I procrastinated getting him this years physical because I had mistakenly thought he was all caught up on his shots. Also, he didn't need another one yet for Scouts because the one he had on file was good for 3 years.

      So I am mad at myself!!!! If I can get his records Friday and get him into the walk in Clinic for the shot, he still has a chance of being able to start school on time.  If not, he will be late starting school. It's my fault for procrastinating and not checking earlier!!! This extra shot (a booster) is a relatively new requirement. My older kids didn't need it.

    Guess what happened while typing this!!! It pays to be nice! 
    When I called the Pediatricians office first thing this morning, the nurse was a bit defensive with me and gave me the standard lecture of how it was my responsibility, I should have not waited to the last minute etc.  I didn't get snippy - I agreed with her that it was my fault. I told that I just now needed to know how to proceed  and how to get this taken care of.

    Well she just called back!  I guess, because I was nice and not like all the other grumpy parents who waited to the last minute, they are going to work me in tomorrow morning. She called back and asked if I was able to contact the other hospital and I had told her no that they wouldn't give me any info over the phone, that I would have to drive there in person. I think she felt sorry for me. Yeah!! It pays to be nice and accept responsibility for ones actions and not blame others for your mistakes. Oh and repentance and prayer helps too. :-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why Lean Ground Beef Is Still Very Budget Friendly

Lean Ground Beef is not the cheapest per pound meat anymore these days. It's budget friendliness comes in the form of versatility and extendability. In casserole form it can be used to make large quantities of wholesome food for low overall cost. I like to pay a little more per pound for lower fat meat. When the fat is rendered you actually have more meat left. However some say it is more cost effective to buy the cheaper, higher fat meat, but make sure to render and discard the fat and blot or rinse the meat. I haven't done an extensive cost analysis to know which actually saves the most. Anyway here are some super budget friendly, stick to your ribs, hearty and healthy dinners that feature ground beef. Most of these are tried and true vintage recipes. You can make them more nutritious by substituting whole grain pasta and brown rice for the white versions in the recipes.

Shipwreck Casserole

6 layer Casserole

Baked Beans and Hamburger


Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Easy Mexicali Dinner

Family Goulash

Tamale Pie

Hamburger Hot Pot (Crock Pot)

Hamburger Stroganoff (Crock Pot)

Shepherds Pie

Spanish Rice (Crock Pot)

Monday, August 11, 2008

TV Mom's Retro Housewives

Ok I want to talk about TV Land Moms of Old- Not exactly reality, but TV is a reflection of the culture and times, and reflected the norms, values, or at least the ideals of society. (OK I just thought about that for a moment- I think TV use to reflect the ideals and values of society. Reflecting for a moment on current shows today, many I hope are not reflecting the ideals but the anti-ideals of society. The show Two and a half Men came to mind- a show that reflects the oppisite of normal societal values. At least I hope. Anyway I digress.)

Back to the topic at hand. When I was a kid most moms did not work outside the home. No I am not ancient - I am in my early 40's. As a kid I watched the TV shows of that era. The era where almost every family situation comedy the mom was a stay at home mom and house wife. The era when it was the norm and very respectable. These are some of the shows I remember.
A walk down memory lane.

I have linked them to some you tube clips. I thought maybe the younger moms that happen by my blog might be amused at some of the clips since many of these shows were before their time. 

Actually Except for the Brady Bunch I would have watched all these shows as reruns because I would have been a baby when the ones in the 60's came out and not born yet for the  ones in the 50"s.  So I guess most of these were before my time too. :-)

The Brady Bunch

Please Don't Eat the Daisies



The Dick Van Dyke Show

Father Knows Best
Before my time but I watched re-runs

Leave It To Beaver
Before my time but I watched re-runs

The Donna Reed Show
Before my time but I watched re-runs

I Dream Of Jeannie

Ozzie and Harriet
Before my time but I watched re-runs

I Love Lucy
Before my time but I watched re-runs

Menu Plan Monday Aug. 11- Aug. 17 2008

Hi all, I just started a diet program to help get rid of 65 excess pounds that have crept on over the past 5 years, but I still have to feed a family of 5. So I still need to meal plan and I love to cook. I wanted my family's meals to closely resemble my diet meals. I also wanted to improve and make healthier versions of family favorites.
Diet Update
Start Weight 188.6
1) 185 -
3.6lbs Week 2) 184.6 -.4lbs
Week 3) 182.8 -1.8lbs Week 4) 181.4 -1.4lbs

Menu Plan Monday

Honey Mustard Pork Chops
Easy Summer Noodles
Steamed Broccoli
Basil Salad

Pizza Night
Making Calzones just to be a little different

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini (Using saved cooked frozen chicken from the freezer, using half the amount of butter, and using reduced fat cheddar cheese instead of Monterey jack cheese)
Green Beans
Spinach Salad

Shepherds Pie
Tossed Salad
Whole Wheat Roll

Cheesy Vegetable Enchiladas (Using reduced fat cheddar instead of the Monterey jack cheese called for in the recipe)
Easy Mexican Rice

BBQ Chicken on the Grill
(Recipe Uses Basic BBQ Rub, Basic Mop Sauce and Basic BBQ Sauce recipes or just go to my Marinades and Seasonings Page Or just Use your Favorite Recipes or Commercial Brands
Cole Slaw
Baked Beans
Corn on The Cob

Pepper Beef Kabobs
Herbed Instant Brown Rice
Marinated Tomatoes

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I quess I am "A Retro Housewife" an Anomaly in the Modern World: A Small Rant

Sorry I haven't posted anything in Over a Week. It has been really busy here.
I found an interesting web site called the Retro Housewife and I guess that is what I am. I am very much of an anomaly these days. Many blogs I go to are Stay at Home Mom Blogs, Many are Home schooling Moms. I have known many, including myself, who feel that they need to justify why they have chosen not to work outside the home. Several things just seem to make the choice seem more noble. First and foremost is the title Christian. That it is what good Christians do right? it is Biblical after all, and God's ideal role for the wife and mom. See now that makes me feel better. (yes I am being a little sarcastic) Next justification we use is that we are raising kids. What is more noble than investing our time and energy raising the next generation. Some (not all and certainly not most, but I personally know a few) who even feel pressured to homeschool as a means to justify their choice to be a stay at home wife and mother. Ok before anyone misunderstands me, I actually think all those reasons are very valid reasons for staying home and being a wife and motther. My gripe is the fact that we as wives and mothers have to include those things in our description of who we are to give validation and a nobility to our chosen profession. The question is why, now in society, do we have to do that?
In times past, housewives did not need to justify or validate their choice to stay home. it was the norm. My mom and aunts all were housewives and did not work outside the home. (Of Course that was the '60s and '70s.) My mom also had a maid too. It was acceptable and noble for her just to be a housewife and mom. Nobody questioned or looked down on her for her choice. Remember Mrs Brady? She had 6 kids but she also had a maid and didn't homeschool. What in the world did she do with all her spare time? Samantha Stevens had no maid but she and Jeannie both had magical powers. I also remember the show Hazel. The mom in that family had Hazel the maid so why was she staying home? Lucy stayed home even when little Ricky wasn't even born yet.

If you do not have any kids, or your kids are older like mine, and you are not homeschooling, it seems there is no justification as to why we would choose to still be at home. At least not any justification that seems to be a worthy noble reason that is accepted by the average American anymore.

I guess I have no real justification for why now, since my kids are older for not going back to the work force. I actually am asked quite a lot if I want to go back to teaching or to work. Many people don't know how to react when they find out all I am is a house wife with not even a part time job anymore. There are people I know that actually look down on me, or women like me.

Now I do know why I haven't chosen to go back into the work force. I run my house. I like running my house. I still have justification to be home, I have a 21 year old handicapped son who cannot function on his own or be left alone. Finding adult day care would be practically impossible and I also have a 12 year old still at home. I think being at home is of even more value when you have teenagers. But I get aggravated by having to use them as my validation for why I am at home. I know our home runs a lot more smoothly and calmly than when I was working out side the home. We have a close family because we have the time to be together and do things as a family. When I worked outside the home it was necessary but we were burning the candle at both ends. All house work, errand running got left for the weekends. That left very little time for family time. I love being able to be the home room mom. To chaperone the school field trips etc.

I guess my rant today is the fact that I feel it necessary to justify my choice to stay at home and choose to be only a housewife to people.

Any thoughts or opinions welcome.
PS: I like the site Retro Housewife it is