Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Favorite Tuna Pasta

Tonight we had my favorite tuna pasta for dinner. Officially called "Spaghetti with Spicy White Tuna Sauce." This is easy, fast and really can be made VERY cheaply (or more expansively if you like)

1 7-oz can tuna-I've used fancy Italian tuna in oil that was $9 and canned albacore that was $1.50. Tonight we used my aunt's own canned tuna from the pacific northwest so it was free.
Olive Oil
1-2TBSP Butter
1/3 Cup minced onion
3 Anchovy fillets (we omitted tonight because we didn't have any, it was still good)
2 garlic cloves
Chopped red chili pepper or hot pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2Tbsp fresh parsley (or 2 tsp dry)
1TBSP Butter
1 lb spaghetti

Drain tuna and chop fine.

Heat oil and butter. (The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup of oil. We use a lot less but let me tell you, it is AWESOME with 1/3 cup oil. )Add onions and cook until golden (4-5 min). Add anchovies and garlic, stir for 1 min. Add tuna and stir well. Add wine and cook until almost reduced. Add parsley and season with salt and chili pepper. Stir butter into sauce and turn off heat.

Cook pasta and reserve 1/2 C cooking water. Add it to the sauce and turn heat to medium. Drain pasta. Add sauce and toss well.

I serve this with grated cheese although real Italian cooks will tell you not to serve grated cheese with fish.

This is so so so good. I swear you can't taste the anchovy at all. Tonight we added capers because we had them. This is cheap and almost any day of the week we have the stuff in the house to make this pasta.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nature Hike In The Back Yard!

Yesterday, after our 2nd picnic in the backyard we still had some time to kill before nap so Mommy came up with the game "Nature Hike."

The object of the game is to walk around the yard and collect as many different pieces of nature as you can. Of course, each time you find something you need to bring it back to the blanket immediately (thus a lot of kid-tiring back and forth running exercise!) You could omit that step if you aren't trying to exhaust your child.
When we were done we had pine cones, rocks, sticks, bark, flowers, dried leaves, fresh leaves, grass, black walnuts and god knows what else. We looked at it all and sorted it and played with it. I tried to think of some craft to do with it, but really, the act of collecting, touching and discussing it all was enough!

Lunch Box Lesson-Ruben Casserole

Another way we save money is by my husband taking his lunch to work
every day. He really has no choice as he teaches Middle School and the only other alternative is school lunch. However, this is great for our wallet. When I worked I would routinely drop $8-$13 on lunch whenever I went out which was 2-3 times a week. (and I'm cheap!)

He usually takes leftovers. Since he cooks 95% of the dinners around here, he usually makes his own lunch (Ok, I DO pack it, get off my back....) Anyway, today I made his lunch and made one of his favorite things-Ruben Casserole!

This is so easy and cheap and he loves it.

-Take one small corned beef and cook it in a crock pot all day on low. Cooking it consists of putting in the crock pot with the enclosed spice packet and covering with water. Easy Easy!!
(Aldi had some for $1.69 lb last year in March. I stocked up on small ones) You don't need to use the most expensive corned beef in the store. Go for the lower priced one. You're just going to be shredding it anyway and you can get rid of the fat then)

-When corned beef is cooked shred it and divide into separate lunch containers.

-Top with sauerkraut

-Top that with Swiss cheese.

That's it. Heat and eat! I package homemade Thousand Island dressing in a different container so he can put it on after heating.

Since I like to cook in bulk, I usually make the corned beef and make up a bunch of these lunches and freeze them. Then when we don't have any leftovers I can just pull one of these out and whip up some dressing for the side.

Today's corned beef was very small and it only made 2 lunches. The price breakdown was as follows:

Corned Beef $3
Sauerkraut $.69
Cheese $ 1.19 (I literally got 5 pieces of Swiss from the deli for this)
Dressing-I had everything to make this (and you probably do to) so I'm calling this free!
Total was $4.88, or $2.44 per lunch! And this is a big and filling lunch!

*Note, that is not my husband's lunch box but if he carried one, that would be the one!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Morning Glories

I know I should really post this in the spring. (And I will at least bring up this and the Hydrangea post come spring) but really, you have to see these NOW!!! Take a gander at these beautiful morning glories. GROWN FROM SEED!

It's really easy. When the weather is warm enough and if you have something these can climb, plant your seeds and water! They will grow and climb and tangle and slither up your support. (You can even use a string if you want to) Come this time of year they are just exploding with beautiful color and leaves. I planted so many that they actually toppled the support and are laying on the driveway now.

This was cheap! I used 1/2 of a mixed pack that I had in the shed. (probably about $1.99 for 50 seeds) and then I used seeds I bought on eBay. (You don't need to get that fancy though) The variety is called President Tyler and I got 10 seeds for $2. At first I didn't think they were any different than the garden variety mixed pack. AND THEN.... Yesterday I went out in the garden and saw THIS..........
My goodness is this pretty!!! The whole thing was done for $4 but you could just as easily cut that in half with a normal pack of seeds that you pick up in the spring. Also, I'm going to wait until the President Tylers dry so that I can harvest the seeds and have FREE plants next year!

And yes Stephanie, even a moron could grow these!

The Good Food Fight!

My newest product review is not a product at all, but a website started by General Mills, called Eat Better America.

The website is free and was designed to provide useful recipes, nutrition, and fitness advice for an overall healthier lifestyle.

The site was launched last year, but was recently redesigned to include a few new features. One of the most popular new items is an online game called the “Good Food Fight.” The game is designed to raise awareness of the types of healthy recipes featured on Eat Better America. It is HYSTERICAL! I mean really funny. You can choose your food of choice, choose your opponent and then start flingin' Each food gives a satisfying splat when thrown and looks really great when you get hit! (*Note-You need to grab the food from the picture at the top left in order to throw it. )

The site is also quite nice with a lot of recipes that look easy, good and are good for you.

Go on... Try the game... You'll love it!

Bake Something!

Things were getting a little dicey around here this afternoon. My girl was climbing the walls and so were her Daddy and I. She had already been to the park, woke up early from her nap and it was HOURS before dinner or bedtime! We try hard not to let her watch to much tv, and let me tell you, today would have been an easy day to relent on this.

Enter one jumbo canister of Oatmeal! My girl and I mixed up a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. She wore her apron from Kristin and Michael. It took a much longer time than if I did it myself (which was actually good because it kept her busy) It was much more messy (which made me mop the floor later!) and she loved it! We measured and mixed and poured and tasted the dough. She also played in the sink during cleanup time.

Later she got to have one of "her" cookies for dessert after dinner.

We have new neighbors that moved in today and we decided that we will bring these over to them tomorrow!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Special Olympics Celebration

My friend Deanna works in a human services organization that specializes in the needs of developmentally disabled adults. Recently, one of their clients was chosen to go to the 2007 Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai, China. This past Friday, the agency threw a wonderful celebration for this young man complete with marching band, antique cars, Air Force Color Guard, speeches from state and local politicians, treats and a balloon launch! Deanna and I took both of our girls to enjoy the festivities.

My girl had never seen a marching band before so this was very cool and exciting to her. (of course I think she also liked the cheese danish just as well....) It was a wonderful celebration and I was very glad to be a part of it. Niam was funny, excited, and just plain inspirational. It's not every day that you get to witness one of someones greatest moments!

And that is a pleasure no amount of money can buy!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dawn Sinple Pleasures Review

Yesterday, along with the free Cascade (gelpacks, which I've never tried!) came a bottle of Dawn Simple Pleasures, Apple and Pear scent (which is great because I love apple scent)

If you don't know what this product is then let me enlighten you. It's a normal bottle of dawn with an AIR FRESHENER in the bottom of the bottle. Kinda weird.

I'll preface this whole review with that fact that I like Dawn dish liquid and will buy it if it is on sale or I have a coupon. I also like scented dish liquid and I like this scent too. (It also comes in Water Lily & Jasmine and Lemon & Tangerine which sound nice.)

I immediately removed the wrapper over the air freshener and was overwhelmed with the smell (nice as it is). The marketing material says that this will release scent into the air for weeks (I would completely believe that based on the smell at the moment) It is very strong. Whenever I enter the kitchen I smell it. My 2 year old even asked "What is that smell?" Apparently the beads are waterproof which is a good thing as it is designed to sit next to your sink.

The thing is:
  • I don't really like to store my dish detergent on the counter so this product would be scenting the cabinet under my sink if it was used the way I intend to (right now it is on the counter). That might actually work out better because that is where my garbage is kept.
  • I don't really ever want this strong of an air freshener this close to me. And that is unavoidable when using the product. I'm sure the scent will lessen but for now it is VERY strong. I should also mention that Deanna reminded me to say that I do tend to be smell sensitive. But I imagine there are others like me as well and they will appreciate the information.
  • I don't see a need for this product. Do people have problems with smelly sinks in the place where they prepare their food. I'm not the world's greatest housekeeper and I don't have this problem.
I tried to find the product in the grocery store to see how the price would compared to non-air freshener dawn as well as other detergents. I could not find it yet, but the marketing material said that Dawn Simple Pleasures is expected to retail for $3.25. This is way more than I ever spend on this kind of item. For me an added air freshener and an added cost are not something that would add beauty (or simplicity as the name states) to my life.

Product Reviews

After posting about my dishwasher duel, and the eventual winner, Cascade, imagine my surprise when a PR firm that represents Cascade contacted me. At first I thought they were going to ask me to take down the photo! But no. Apparently they saw my review on the blog and wanted to send me some free Cascade! Very Cool!

They also asked if I wanted to do more reviews for some of their products and post them on the blog. Always up for something new, I agreed. They said I didn't even have to write good things if I didn't like a product. I don't get paid for this but I do get to try some neat new (free) products.

Anyway, since I am routinely conscious of my spending and of the things that will and will not add value to my life as well, I thought it would be great to post some reviews from that point of view. So, from time to time I will post some product reviews here. And will tell you if that is what I am doing. So stay tuned.

You know, I always like the show Fight Back with David Horowitz when I was younger. This is probably an outcropping of a need to be a consumer advocate from my youth!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Have a picnic!

Need a way to jazz up plain old peanut butter and jelly? Eat it outside!!!

This is exactly what my girl and I did today and exactly what we ate. Along with carrot sticks from a peeled carrot as I don't like to pay extra for those pre-peeled and cut faux "baby" carrots.

Anyway, it's a beautiful day today so we took a blanket in the backyard. I let her choose where to put it and then we came in and I let her "make" her own sandwich (with help!) We took them outside and ate and talked and it was a lot of fun. Our yard backs up to some trees and at one point my girl said "It's nice to eat in the woods" and later when I told her what a great sandwich maker she was, she took a bite and looked at me and said "It's delicious!"

Afterward we played a while with her sand table and then picked up and came inside for nap. It was a nice quiet afternoon with no TV or music and we had a great time with each other.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Propagating Hydrangea

It seems that, no matter what kind of gardener you are, once Hydrangea enter your life, you can't get enough of them! They grow easily, have blooms that last a long time (and dry on the bush for easy cutting and arranging) come in beautiful colors and heck, if you don't like the color you can even change their color YOURSELF! If you don't have a Hydrangea in your life you should seriously consider getting one!

They usually aren't cheap. Ok, we aren't talking expensive tree expensive, but more than your average perennial or butterfly bush.

Last night at Garden Club the idea of propagating Hydrangea came up between a few of us. This is one of my most fun, easy and cheap ways to create more hydrangea, provided you have a nice size bush to begin with.

All you need to do is bury one of the stems in the ground. It will grow roots and eventually can be cut off from the original bush and transplanted (roots and all) elsewhere. I would probably do this in the spring after the plant gets leaves. Make sure one of the leaf nodes is buried.

For a more detailed description of the process click here.

It really is that simple! I have done this once before and have also been the recipient of a plant that was propagated in this manner.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Free After Rebate!!!

I love free things!

One of the best deals around these days are stores that offer products free after rebate. My two favorites are Walgreen's and Rite Aid which each offer a rebate program monthly.

It's really simple actually. Once a month I check the store's website. (You can also find this in the Sunday paper but we don't get the paper) I go to the store and purchase the item(s) they have featured free after rebate for that month. Immediately after I get home I either fill out the form provided at the store (Walgreen's) or enter the receipt online (Rite Aid). In about 3-4 weeks I get a check for the amount of the item purchased.

I generally only do this for items that I actually use. I also don't go out of my way. I usually plan this errand when I am already driving past said place so as not to waste any gas and use my time wisely.

The most important thing to remember is to read all of the instructions and complete the rebate correctly and within the time frame given. I like to do it right away so I don't forget.

Today I got a bottle of Pantene Pro-V Shampoo and an Aquafresh Toothbrush at Walgreen's. I've already prepared my receipt for mailing and in 3-4 weeks I'll be receiving a check for $8.98 which will be deposited right into my savings account!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Homemade Chicken Stock

Tonight my husband made a roast chicken for dinner. I love when he does that because then I get to make Homemade Chicken Stock. If you've never made stock before you've really been missing out. I can't stress enough the difference between homemade stock and the flavored water that Swanson's claims is Chicken Stock. The depth of flavo that your homemade stock will give your soups as well as anything else that calls for stock will make you never want to go back to the canned, or GOD FORBID, those salty neon yellow cubes again.

Don't worry! It's easy.

1) Take one chicken carcass. I wait until it cools, cut off all of the usable chicken off and put it in a pot. Leave a little meat on for flavor (I'm talking a little here, nothing big enough to use for chicken salad (which is what I will assume you will do with your leftovers)

2) Cover with water. I like to use a large pot

3) Add any stray veggies you have. This is a great time to use up that 1/2 onion that has been in your fridge for a week. Wilted celery-throw it in there. (In fact in the winter months when I make stock I actually have a bag in the freezer that I use to store veggies on their last legs until stock time) Some veggies you may want to include-Carrots, garlic, onions, celery, herbs, I stay away from stuff like broccoli or spinach unless I am making a vegetable stock. A lot of times my husband will stuff the bird's cavity with herbs, a lemon, onions-When I cut the meat off I just leave it all in there.

4) Throw in some salt and pepper. Got a bay leaf or 2, add em'.

5) Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer A LONG TIME. How long??? An hour or 2. I like to reduce the liquid at least by half but think it makes a better stock if you reduce it to 1/4. (albeit it, less stock)

6) After it is reduced, strain it and throw away your solids. Put in a bowl and let cool a little. Place in fridge overnight. In the morning you should have a nice yellow layer of fat cooled on the top. Skim that off and discard. Not your stock is pretty low fat. If it appears jelly-like that is EVEN BETTER! That is a good stock! (I think there is even a name for it) Some people buy inexpensive chicken parts like wings just to make stock but I'm opposed to that. The real thrill for me is making something out of nothing that saves me money and makes my food even better.

Store in usable size containers in your freezer and grab whenever you need some stock. You won't be sorry.

Dishwasher Duel!

I'm pretty cheap.

When it comes to household & beauty products I usually start with the most inexpensive version of something and work my way up to find the (cheapest) one that works for me. Sometimes the cheapest version of the product suits my needs just fine, other times spending more money does yield a better product.

Ever since I've determined that the dishwasher is my friend, I have been trying experimenting with which detergent works the best . According to the manual, other than removing solids from the dishes, I don't need to rinse them before putting them in the dishwasher. I like this idea. It saves money (water) and time.

I've tried a bevy of different products. Electrosol tablets and gel, Wegman's brand powder and gel, Cascade (just to see what all the fuss was about) and the latest, Palmolive.

Electrosol gel smelled funny when in use. I was unimpressed with the Wegman's powder as it sometimes caked in the dispenser. I did love the Cascade. I noticed Palmolive does not actually get all of the stuff off of the dishes, which completely defeats the purpose of the dishwasher as I then need to re-wash stuff by hand.

I consulted consumer reports, and sure enough, Cascade Complete was at the top of the list. (Actually the top 5 were Cascade products) The Target Brand powder also got high marks.

So that leaves me with the most expensive dish washing detergent at the store. It also means I don't have to use extra water and time pre-rinsing my dishes. I bought some today. The next time I need some and am near Target I will try that one as it is cheaper, but not enough so that you would make an extra trip for it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Play Pasta

This is not some weird pasta salad I made with food coloring to hide the fact that there is nothing esle in it! It's play pasta that was easy to make. Most people probably already have everything they need to make it at home.

For each color, use 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol and 20 drops of food coloring. I used a large glass mixing cup and it did not stain. Drop in pasta and let sit until you achieve the desired color. (about 10 min) Let dry on a cookie sheet overnight. The color is really deep and will not rub off on your hands when you use it.

I had to buy rubbing alcohol and pasta because I didn't have any with holes in it and I wanted my girl to be able to string it. I also bought a package of shoelaces because the dipped ends make it easy to pass through the pasta holes.

All together, this cost:
$1 Rubbing alcohol
$1 Pasta (I only used about 1/2 of the pasta I bought and we will eat the rest).
$1.30 for the shoelaces.
$3.30 total

My girlie loves this. I got it out for her yeaterday and she keeps calling it "My Colors!" she loves stringing them on the shoelaces which is great for her small motor skills and as you can see from the picture, she loves sorting them by shape and color as too.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Crabapple Jelly

While on vacation, Michael, the fellow who, along with his wife Lynn, own our favorite little red cottage, told me that he had made crabapple jelly from the crabapples that grow on the tree in their backyard. I had no idea they were actually edible (and without sugar, they really aren't) so I thought I would give it a try.

Their kids, my daughter and I picked A LOT of crabapples. The tree was gorgeous. It was COVERED in crabapples. You couldn't even get within 10 feet of it without smelling their heady aroma.

When we got home I made jelly. I spent:
$2.19 on 5lbs of sugar (I didn't use it all but for the sake of argument I'll keep it simple)
$1.69 on Fruit Pectin
$4.99 cheesecloth to strain it
Total: $8.87 for 13 jars of jelly. (or $0.68 each!) This would have been cheaper if I had some cheesecloth or a jelly bag already but I did wash it to be able to re-use it.

I've never made jelly before (jam yes, jelly, no). It's such a beautiful ruby color, (It's kind of hard to tell from the picture). I am so proud that it is clear and not cloudy and it set up perfectly! Now 12 of my friends and family need to worry about being the recipient of my newest creation!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First Day, Lunch With Grandma and Free Food

Today was my girlie's 1st day of pre-school! She was so excited this morning and got all ready with her backpack. Parents stayed today to see what it was all about as well as ease the children (and parents, I suspect) into the whole routine. Next week will be a real test for me when I have to leave her!

She had a great time, played with the kids, had a snack, listened to the teacher and wants to go back! It was all much easier than I had imagined it would be. She's also the oldest/biggest in the class so she's feeling kind of confident. (Not that, that has been an issue!)

After that we went to Great Grandma Ruth's and Bob's house where we had lunch and got a bounty of food. Dried Hydrangea for my living room, tomatoes, garlic, pepper and some tuna that my aunt who lives in the Pacific Northwest canned and sent. I have a wonderful tuna pasta that I will make with that. I also got 2 of the 72 JARS OF TOMATOES that my grandma had in her basement. Every year she cans tomatoes. A lot of tomatoes. She can't possibly eat that many so I agree to help her out. ;-)

She doesn't need to can them anymore. She used to grow her own food and can it because it saved her money. It helped her and my grandfather survive when money was tight. Now I think it's habit and a need not to waste anything that comes from the garden. This got me thinking about the fact that although I love to can things, I do it for the thrill of it. Saving money is secondary (nice as it is) I don't have to can. I don't do it every year. Most of us don't ever have to can. Most of us aren't putting things in the larder for the winter. Part of that makes me happy and part of that makes me sad. How many people have never preserved food this way before? How many people know how anymore? Sometimes the things that make our life easier also make them flatter, less interesting, less satisfying. Opening a can of tomatoes from Wegman's is not nearly as satisfying as hearing that pop when you remove the seal on a jar of canned homegrown tomatoes.

My grandma is also REALLY STRICT about getting her jars and rings back so this is even a boon for the environment, except for the metal seal, home canned foods generate no waste!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Don't Buy Stuff

I've come to the conclusion that being frugal has more to do with what you don't buy than what you do buy. Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first to tell you how much something costs if I get a great deal on something (And I often do!) Recently on Lightening's Blog she said that she realized that when she "saved money" on something while shopping, she really didn't save anything. All she had really done was gotten more STUFF for the same amount of money. I thought that was a really great way to look at it. Saving money implies that you still have the money!

There are a lot of things that I don't (or rarely buy) that I used to.
-A lot of toys for my daughter-Her favorite thing this summer was the free sand table she got from Deanna.
-A lot of clothes for my daughter. We have been the wonderful recipients of so many beautiful name brand clothes from friends that we usually have to just fill in with shoes, pjs and socks. (and of course then there's 2 grandmas who provide beautiful clothes.)
-Packing supplies for my eBay business-Michael readily supplies me with foam wrap from his cabinetry business. (used, which is a great way to recycle this stuff)
-A lot of paper products-We have a ton of dishtowels that I wash regularly, thus avoiding too many paper towels. Sometimes we use cloth napkins, I really have to get back to this again because we have been bad about that this summer. I hardly ever have tin foil or plastic wrap in the house, mostly it's just leftover if I need it for a recipe or a craft
-Meals out-We hardly ever eat out.
There are a bunch of other things that I could list but that would get boring, you get the point.

I've looked around lately and realized I don't need anything (well except maybe some new sneakers) but other than clothes, which wear out over time, I could live quite well with everything I already own for some time, years probably. (Of course, I need to remember that the next time I stumble into a really great garage sale!)

Public Service Announcement

Hey all you New Yorkers! I just wanted to remind everyone that this year you need to APPLY for your Star Property Tax Rebate. Last year they just sent it to those who were eligible. And you can't apply until you get the code in the mail. (What will we need next year, a secret decoder ring?) My cynical side thinks they are hoping some people will forget or that they will throw out the letter with the code as junk mail but I really don't know for certain.

Anyway, once you get your code you can send back the application or apply on line. I applied online. It took less than 2 minutes, I got a confirmation that my application was received and I saved having to use a stamp. You can also look up when your code will be mailed to you if you haven't received it yet. The deadline to apply is 11/30/07.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Take 2 Aspirin and Call Me In The Morning

Ok file this one under "you won't believe me until you try it."

Take 4 or 5 aspirin. Put them in a bowl. Put in a little water to dissolve. Add a small amount of honey, add a little plain yogurt (yes, keep going...) Rub it all over your face (No, I'm not kidding.) Voila, you have the aspirin mask.

I found this gem online. I thought it was a joke, or at best, an interesting exfoliant. It actually leaves your skin smooth and reduced redness. If you need more inspiration take a look at all the reviews over on Makeup Alley.

You can actually do this without the yogut and honey or you can add other things to it that you would associate with a facial mask. You can even add it to an existing facial mask that you already have. I've tried it a bunch of times and my skin looks great every time I use it. You need to use real aspirin though-No Tylenol or Advil. And I would say if you are the kind of person with a bad reaction to aspirin then you should probably skip it altogether.

Everyone else-It can't hurt to try and costs just cents!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My Garden On the Cheap...

After leaving a large garden at my old house I was dismayed and a little excited about the fact that my new house has some shrubs and nothing more in the way of plants. It had been a while since I started a garden from scratch and I know more now than I did when I first planted.

Also, moving into a new home on one income leaves one with less money than they had at their old house to buy any plant that strikes their fancy....

Enter my garden on the cheap. I decided to start small this year and get plants only from free or very cheap sources. No Genrich's for me this year Garden Club Girls....

So my total cash outlay for the garden looks something like this:
-$12.72 8 Bags of Soil
-$29.61 9 Bags of mulch
-$15 Garden Club Plant Sale
-$15 Farmers Market Dahlia Sale (these are some major Dahlias)
-$2 Farmers Market Lily
- Gifts from Deanna and Aunt Pat
-Free plants from Susan and Grandma
-$2 on the dry and damaged Petunia you see in the hypertufa pot that I nursed back to health.
-Planted Morning Glory and Sunflower seeds that I already had

Total $76.33

I wish I could say it's the most beautiful garden I've ever created. It isn't. Parts of it are beautiful but I got a little overzealous with the morning glories. Then the deer got a little overzealous eating the leaves off the bottom of the morning glories so the result was these tall skinny green Dementors that loomed over us when we sat by them. They blew over in a wind storm but I haven't the heart to rip them out because their flowers are gorgeous. Now it's like a weird plant spill onto the driveway. Their tendrils are entwined with every plant in the garden. Deer ate the lily. A skunk lopped off the only sunflower that grew and left it in a taunting manner on the driveway. The Dahlias are stunning (I knew it!)
Next year, minus the morning glories I think it's going to be a really nice garden.

Zucchini Pancakes

Sick of zucchini yet?!?!

Despite the fact that I told my brother to take all the zucchini he wanted (apparently he only wanted 2) while we were on vacation, I came home to a zucchini that would make Bob Jacobs proud! Who is Bob Jacobs you ask? He's Jacquie's dad and when we were kids he would grow his zucchini to mammoth proportions (maybe he was practicing for the state fair?!?!) and then sell them to the neighbors on his lawn for $0.25. Every day he would come home from work and his zucchini table would be empty and full of quarters. One neighbor would even ring the doorbell and ask if he had any zucchini!

Well I don't have any neighbors ringing my bell yet but I might if I don't finish up all this zucchini. The one in question was 5 POUNDS! I weighed it!

So for lunch today I made Zucchini Pancakes.

  • About 1 and 1/3 cup grated zucchini
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 egg whites
  • About ¼ of a large sweet onion(I actually used one green onion because that is what I had)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Remove some moisture from the zucchini. I put it in a colander and squeezed it all out.

Wisk the flour and egg whites together for form the batter.

Grate the onion right over the bowl of batter and add the zucchini. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.

Heat a non-stick frying pan or griddle over medium high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Form the zucchini batter into patties. Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until cake becomes a nice brown, flip sprinkle a bit more salt and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

I made the first 3 with this recipe and then added feta cheese to the last 2 to see how that would taste. Both were delicious! This recipe makes about 4 med size cakes but I would double it if I were making it for more than 2 people.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Little Red Cottage Up North

I am back from what seems like a long vacation! 2 Weeks in Northern NY on the shore of the St Lawrence River. This is the little red cottage we stay in every year.

It has 2 rooms and is quite reasonable ($500 for 2 weeks, though we do get a little discount) to stay in. As I mentioned in my previous post, the view from the porch is the top of this blog. My husband explained to the owners of the cottage that my soul is somewhere in that field as I think it is probably one of the most peaceful views I've ever seen. It was greener this year than the picture at the top of this blog, maybe I'll change the picture. Every morning I would have my coffee while looking at that view and just breathe....

The cottage has a kitchen so we ate all but 4 meals at home. (We went out for 2 dinners, one lunch and one breakfast) I thought that was going to be a bummer because in past years we would eat out a lot! It wasn't a bummer at all and we cooked easy simple food.

Lynne and Michael, who own our cottage are wonderful as are their 3 children who had a great time playing with our 2 1/2 year old. One night we had a fire in front of their 1860s farmhouse and listened to their oldest play civil war music on the violin with her dad accompanying on guitar.

Most mornings my husband would go down to the dock at the cottage to go fishing and most afternoons too. When our daughter was napping we would take turns at the water. We all swam, enjoyed beautiful sunsets and napped a lot!

Every night that we were home we would put our daughter to bed and both take out our books to read. One night we rented a movie but only watched half and lost interest.

We got a library card at the little library there. Had picnics at the local lighthouse, went to the free fish museum and free historical society. There was an awesome playground.

Leighanne's family has a place there so we also spent one weekend with Leigh and her new husband, Tim.

One of my favorite memories is of going to the dump by myself (yes, you read that correctly) When you don't have local garbage pickup it really makes you think even more about your trash and consumption habits. (They would have taken our garbage for us but since we're so comfortable there we just as soon do it ourselves) Anyway, one of the best parts of the dump is that everyone brings the books they don't want and you can just help yourself! One day I took a bag of garbage and recyclables. It cost a dollar. I picked up 11 books and had a homemade oatmeal cookie that the woman who runs the dump made. Let me tell you, that was a way better experience than I have lugging my huge suburban trash toter to the curb every Sunday night. Hmmm.... Life in a small town.

This was a really cheap vacation. $500 for the 2 weeks plus groceries and a few meals out. Of course there were some sideline trips to other towns and a few coffee splurges at the cute local coffee house as well as a new beautiful silver bracelet for me. But by and large this was a wonderful vacation on a budget! We have done this for the past 5 years and would do it even if we had a lot more money for vacation spending!