Hint #1 on Saving Energy this Winter

From what I read, there are 5 major areas in our homes where we can make improvements to save energy. The furnace, water heater, ducts, windows/doors and floors will be briefly covered in separate posts.

The furnace:

  • Lower your thermostat. It doesn’t cost anything. Do as my mother always told us – Put on a sweater.
  • Clean or replace your furnace air filter as often as recommended.
  • If you heat with an electric or propane furnace, you can probably cut your heating costs dramatically by installing a heat pump. Ductless heat pumps are available now-a-days and are efficient, and they eliminate the problem of leaky furnace ducts. If you can’t afford one out of pocket, look at getting a loan. It’s possible that your energy savings would cover the cost of the loan payments.

Keep your fork

Deviled Beef

While looking through my grandmother’s recipe book I happened upon this recipe scribbled on the back on an envelope. I think a lot of grandmas used whatever scrap of paper they could find to jot down recipes.

Take slices of left-over rare roast beef and spread with butter on each side, as if you were buttering bread. Over this scrape a mustard made by mixing a tablespoonful of vinegar with 3 tablespoonfuls mustard and a dash of salt and pepper. Lay on a smoking-hot spider (skillet) and fry till the slices begin to curl over.

Keep your fork

Civics Class

In 1960, the freshman civics class at the New York Military Academy were discussing the qualifications for becoming President of the United States. We all know that the requirements are pretty simple. The candidate must be a natural born citizen and at least 35 years old.

Donald, a tall, lanky orange haired boy piped up and began complaining about how unfair it was to require the candidates to be a natural born citizen. In his opinion, that made it impossible for many qualified people to run for office.

He went on and on, wrapping up his argument with, “What makes a natural born citizen more qualified to be President than one born by C-Section?”

Keep your fork

Bacon Splatter

Tired of bacon splattering all over the stove and back splash? What causes bacon to splatter? Read on.

One of the steps in processing pork belly into bacon is the curing process. Manufactures (Swift, Kunzler, and many others), use either a dry cure, a wet cure or both methods to cure their pork before it is smoked. Here’s where the difference comes in.

A dry cure, also called a dry rub, is used primarily by artisanal producers causing it to be a pricier, slower process. The pork is rubbed with a mixture of different salts, sodium nitrite and various spices. It is then left to sit for at least a week, giving it time to develop a variety of savory flavor compounds.

A wet cure, used more commonly by commercial bacon producers, is faster and cheaper than the dry cure process. The pork is either submerged into or injected with a brine which mimics the dry cure process in hours rather than days. The wet cure process leaves more water from the brine in the bacon. Not only do you pay for this water in the price per pound, it is what causes the bacon to splatter more during the frying process.

Keep your fork

Potatoes with Hard-Boiled Eggs

If you have some left over boiled potatoes and want to do more with them than simply slice and warm, try this recipe.

8 cold boiled potatoes
6 hard-boiled eggs
Salt and pepper
2 c white sauce
1/2 c buttered cracker crumbs

Slice the potatoes and eggs into quarter-inch slices. Place a layer of sliced potatoes into a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with a layer of sliced eggs, then another layer of potatoes. Pour the white sauce over the potato and egg layers. Cover with the cracker crumbs and bake until brown.

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Thoughts on Adding Spices

Having a more or less a European ancestry, I learned to cook like a traditional European cook. Traditionally, the Europeans add spices early on so that their flavors have time to meld together and diffuse throughout the food. I can remember my Mom and both Grandmothers talking about the flavors melding together so I naturally followed their lead.

But then I seen the light. In Indian cooking, the approach to adding spices is a little different. There are no hard-and-fast rules as to when to add the spices, but the Indian approach makes sense to me. If the spices are meant to permeate and offer background flavor, add them early on in the cooking process. If the spices are meant to jump out and say ‘Here I am!’, add them toward the end of the cooking process, as a long cooking time drives off some of the volatile compounds that make the flavor that you want to feature.

Keep your fork

The Greatest Liar in the World

Snow White, Superman and Pinocchio are out for a little stroll in town one afternoon enjoying the warm weather and sunshine.

As they walked, they come upon a sign, ‘Beauty contest for the most beautiful woman in the world.’

“I’m entering,” said Snow White.

About a half hour later she comes out and the other two ask her, “Well, how did you place?”

“I won First Place!” said Snow White.

They continue walking and they see another sign, ‘Contest for the strongest man in the world.’

“I’m entering,” says Superman.

After half an hour, he returns and they ask him, “How did you make out?”

“I won first place too.” answers Superman. “Did you have any doubt?”

They continue walking when they see a third sign, “Contest – Who is the greatest liar in the world?”

Pinocchio quickly enters the contest. After half an hour he returns with tears in his eyes.

“What happened?” the other two ask him.

“Who the hell is Donald Trump?” asks Pinocchio.

Keep your fork

Sportsman’s Broth

Here’s an old English recipe for a sportsman’s broth that you may want to try this fall if you have a chance.

Take grouse, partridge, pheasant, or any other game you have; cut in small joints, put them in a pot with water and plenty of whole vegetables. Let it stew slowly four or five hours; then take the best pieces you have saved out, season them and toss in a little flour; brown over a quick fire, and add to the strained stock with 12 small onions, 2 bunches celery, sliced, and half a cabbage that has been finely shredded, to stew slowly till tender. Half an hour before serving, add 6 potatoes cut in slices.

Keep your fork

A Way to Look at Electricity Costs

You know that’s you can get a gallon of milk for about $2.50 a gallon, a pound of hamburger for about $4.00 and a book of 20 stamps for $11.00. In other words, you know what you are getting for your grocery and/or postal purchases. But, if you’ve ever watched the little numbers spin around on your electric meter, almost as fast as the national deficit grows, did you ever wonder what you were getting for your money? The following examples are based on national averages calculated by theĀ  Department of Energy, assuming your household uses about 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month at 12 cents per kWh. Granted, your numbers will be slightly different, based on your specific appliance and its operation, but it gives you an idea of electrical costs.

Clothes Dryer
Wattage: 3,000
Hours/Day: .5
Days/Year: 365
KWH/Year: 548
Yearly Costs: $65.70
Monthly Costs: $5.48

Clothes Washer
Wattage: 500
Hours/Day: .5
Days/Year: 365
KWH/Year: 91
Yearly Costs: $10.95
Monthly Costs: $0.91

Coffee Maker
Wattage: 800
Hours/Day: .25
Days/Year: 365
KWH/Year: 73
Yearly Costs: $8.76
Monthly Costs: $0.73

Refrigerator
Wattage: 225
Hours/Day: 24
Days/Year: 365
KWH/Year: 657
Yearly Costs: $78.84
Monthly Costs: $6.57

Dishwasher
Wattage:1,200
Hours/Day: 1
Days/Year: 180
KWH/Year: 216
Yearly Costs: $25.92
Monthly Costs: $2.16

50-Gal Electric Water Heater
Wattage: 4,000
Hours/Day: 3
Days/Year: 365
KWH/Year: 4,380
Yearly Costs: $525.60
Monthly Costs: $43.80

50-Inch LED TV
Wattage: 100
Hours/Day: 5
Days/Year: 365
KWH/Year: 180
Yearly Costs: $21.60
Monthly Costs: $1.80

Central A/C
Wattage: 3,500
Hours/Day: 9
Days/Year: 150
KWH/Year: 4,725
Yearly Costs: $567.00
Monthly Costs: $47.25

Oven
Wattage: 2,400
Hours/Day: .75
Days/Year: 365
KWH/Year: 657
Yearly Costs: $78.55
Monthly Costs: $6.57

Put these monthly costs with all the other electricity eating devices you own and you’ve got your answer as to why the numbers spin so rapidly.

Keep your fork