Monday, November 29, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ The Many Wonders of Cabbage

Cabbage. At 89 cents a pound, a head of cabbage purchased for about three bucks can go a long way. I made coleslaw, to go with our barbecue dinner the other night, but since my husband and I are the only ones who eat coleslaw in the family, I have more than a half a head left over. I can stretch it into two more sides- braised with dill or stir fried with garlic, or incorporate it into a tasty entree. Ground Meat with Cabbage and Noodles sounds good or perhaps Unrolled Cabbage. It's also a welcome addition to Minestrone soup and (just in time for flu season) an excellent source of vitamin C. There is something comforting and homey about cabbage and, as a bonus, it has quite a long (refrigerator) shelf life. Here is my recipe for coleslaw. It's really good.

Coleslaw Serves 6

1 large head of cabbage
1/2 cup finely diced or grated sweet onion
1 cup Low Fat Mayo (I like Hellman's)
1/2 cup Buttermilk
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp fresh pepper
1tsp celery salt
1 T poppy seeds

Grate or shred the cabbage as thin as possible. (I use a mandoline.)
In a bowl, combine the cabbage with the diced onion and all other ingredients.
Allow to sit one hour.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Low Calorie Holiday Treats

The Holidays are officially here! Whether you love or hate them (and I fall into either camp on any given day), I DO love Holiday food. Pumpkin, cranberries, gingerbread and egg nog are some of my favorite things, but not the calories they contain. When I made myself a steaming cup of Celestial Seasonings Holiday Candy Cane Lane tea the other night, sweetened with agave (lower glycemic than sugar) it was like sipping a liquid candy cane and it got me wondering what other holiday foods could be made healthier. Pumpkin, a super food naturally low in calories, loses something in translation when made into super fattening desserts, but I found a crust less pumpkin pie with only 121 calories a slice. At that rate, you could even afford to put a plop of Cool Whip on top. And what would the holidays be without egg nog? I hated the idea of skipping this scrumptious beverage entirely, but at 200 calories a half cup, it is a nutritional disaster! I looked at low calorie alternatives online, but frankly, they sounded disgusting. My solution (thanks to Season's 52) is to pour a bit of the real stuff in a shot glass (1/8 of a cup), grate some fresh nutmeg on top and savor every sip. It's only 50 calories! Alternatively, I mix some into a cup of cold skim milk. You still get the flavor, but it is diluted with lower calorie dairy. Of course, you still have to work these treats into your daily intake of calories and adjust accordingly. But HO HO HO, at least you don't have to give up your holiday treats! Here's the recipe for Crustless Pumpkin Pie.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Serves 8

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (12 ounce can evaporated skim milk
3/4 cup egg subsititute
1 -2 T pumpkin pie spice (or make your own with 1 T cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cloves.)
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup of Splenda

1) Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
2) Pour into a 9" pie pan sprayed with cooking spray.
3) Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, reduce temp to 325. Bake 45 minutes.
4) Pie is done when knife inserted into center comes out clean.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Woman's Words of Wisdom

I saw an interview with Jane Fonda on Oprah the other day and she said the secret to staying young is to be more interested than interesting. (That and a little plastic surgery.) Also, that she tries to learn something every day, in every situation- to be constantly curious. I like that advice- it's never too late to learn something new and it does make life more interesting. I enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies of strong woman. I read Jane Fonda's a year or two ago- My Life So Far (great title) and I highly recommend it. She did her first interview with Ted Turner since they got divorced in 2001 (it's on her blog) and she said they were both "works in progress", which I think is a great mindset at 70 plus years of age. Another biography I really enjoyed reading was Katharine Hepburn's - Me: Stories of My Life. I read it after Hurricane Andrew destroyed our house, and reading how she rebuilt her family home after a hurricane had leveled it, was just the motivation I needed to pick myself up and start again. But in any bio I read, I take away something worthwhile- whether it's admiration, inspiration or just a little better understanding of another human being.

"If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased." Katharine Hepburn

"I feel we are all islands- in a common sea." Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"It's never too late- never too late to start over, never too late to be happy." Jane Fonda

Friday, November 19, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Where to Find the Cheapest Checks

Does this scenario sound familiar? You go to write a check somewhere and suddenly realize you're down to your last couple checks. Panicked, you call the bank and order more and maybe even put a rush order on it, resulting in beaucoup bucks! Unfortunately, this usually happens to me. Despite my best intentions (usually when I get the "STOP! Time to reorder your checks!" notice in my box of checks) I typically don't do anything about ordering checks until I've run out.
This time, however, I was determined to do better and to find out how much my procrastination was actually costing me. Of course, I researched it on the internet and read that Cotsco (the subject of other gleesganders posts) cost 50% less than regular checks. That's quite a savings! I thought it would be a pain to have to make the trip to Cotsco, but you can actually order online and they are delivered to your door. I did run into a snag after I ordered them, where they needed a cancelled check or to talk to my bank in order to place the order. Once I got that resolved (it took a week before I was notified of the glitch) it definitely did save me money; I got 500 checks, so I'm good to go for awhile! Here's how the check comparisons broke down.
1) Checks Unlimited
You see the fliers for this company in your newspaper and they were voted #1 for checks direct by Equifax. Selection of checks is good with designs featuring Disney, Dogs, Wizard of Oz etc...
1 box of singles (125 checks) is $5.50 but this is only for 1st time orderers. 2 boxes is $11.00.
Takes 2-3 weeks and can be ordered over the phone or on the Internet. Free Shipping and Handling.
2) 4
Another flyer company, this one offers over 800 designs (if that is important to you), including the scenic landscapes, I Love Lucy, religious designs and College Team Logos.
1 box of singles is $6.95 but the second box is as low as 10 cents, so if you're going to order more than one box, this is a better deal than the above. Free Shipping and Handling.
This is where I usually order my checks from, the company my bank uses. As I suspected, I was paying a lot for my laziness! Although they said it depends on my financial institution, it is normally $20 for 150 checks. Rip off!
4) Cotsco
The clear winner! I paid $13.18 for two boxes of checks-totalling 500 checks, which comes to about $3 a box. They didn't have a big selection of designs to choose from- I got a Monet painting, but it sure did save me MONEY, with or without the French accent. Ooh La La!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ How To Be a Flapper

I recently attended a "Puttin on the Ritz" Gala where the dress was roaring twenties or fashionably attired. I've always loved that era of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald so I decided to dress as a Flapper. I didn't want to buy a new dress, or (God forbid!) RENT a costume so I put on my thinking cap and came up with a flapper costume out of my own closet. With just a couple purchases (adding up to less than $10), I was transformed into Daisy Buchanan, or some reasonable facsimile. If you have a short black dress and a string of pearls, "You're In The Money!" I googled Flapper Fashion to get some ideas. I already had a short, black, loose fitting dress with asymmetrical hemline that fit the bill perfectly. I found some shoes that looked similar to the ones flapper's wore (velvet, closed toe), put it together with my long string of pearls (purchased at Target) and a cute clutch and voila! I was almost good to go. The only thing missing was a head band, so I bought some sequined stretchy fabric at Jo Anns (about 3 bucks) along with a bag of black feathers (2 bucks) to complete my outfit. I hot glued the headband together, inserted a feather and my outfit was almost complete. Short hair was in fashion (the bob) back then. so I tried to dry mine as straight as possible and of course, flappers need red, red lipstick. I wanted one that wouldn't wear off so I researched it on the computer again (how did I ever live without Google?) and found that Revlon's ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick (Top Tomato) would last all night. And it did- through sipping champagne, dinner and dancing. I had to use makeup remover a couple times the next morning to remove the final vestiges of it. I added a mink to my outfit, but a feather boa would do as well. Check out the results. I got a lot of complements and it was fun.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Start a Fire

The last six months I've been gathering twigs, sticks and logs around the neighborhood like a squirrel gathering nuts. While it's been 80+ degrees outside, I've been dreaming of nights where the temperature dips below 70 and we can make a fire in our fireplace. Last Friday night, it happened, and we rushed home from a Homecoming parade to make a fire and eat s'mores. Just as anticipating a vacation can be as much fun as the actual trip, it has cheered me up to gather fire supplies, while it is suffocatingly humid and hot outside, knowing that eventually cold weather will come. Luckily, in Miami, it never gets too cold for too long, but on those rare occasions we try to enjoy the cold snap as much as possible. Long before there was TV, our ancestors gathered around a mesmerizing fire and enjoyed the fellowship it afforded. It is supposed to reach 80 again this week, but in the meantime, we've had three fires the last three nights. Fire- free and priceless. If you don't have a fireplace, firepits (purchased at Target or hardware stores) are all the rage and quite affordable. Try it, you'll like it! Savor the season.