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Archive for March, 2009

Our 72-Hour kits have been on my mind lately.  We had a storm pass through recently.  We didn’t need our 72-Hour kits.  We didn’t even get them out, although we did ask each other if we needed them.  Last month, we knew of some people (and their neighbors) who lost their home to a wildfire.  When I was told of their loss, the person telling me said that they didn’t even have a toothbrush.  If only they had prepared 72-Hour kits!  Thus, I wanted to make sure that our 72-Hour kits would have enough things to keep us somewhat “comfortable” if we ever needed them.  I knew that they wouldn’t put us in the lap of luxury, but at least they would satisfy some basic needs (toothbrush, clean clothes, food).

We have two backpacks for our 72-Hour kits.  Each backpack had bottled water, but one had food and the other had everything else (matches, ponchos, first aid kit, etc.).  I really wanted to add a change of clothes for each of us, because it would be helpful to have dry clothes if you got soaking wet or muddy (or just plain stinky after wearing the same clothes for a few days).

First, I emptied the backbacks and sorted everything into two piles.  I split the food and water evenly, included a set of clothes, and tried to split everything else as best as I could.  One backpack has the flashlight, matches, batteries, radio, work gloves, etc..  The other backpack has the toothpaste, first aid kit, mess kit, etc.  Both have a poncho, an emergency blanket, a toothbrush, Kleenex, toilet paper, etc.  I made a list of contents for each backpack and put that in the front pocket.  I used a piece of duck tape to label our names on the outside of each backpack, along with, “Always take both packs.”  That way, you wouldn’t just take the one with your name on it and be without a pocketknife (because it was in the other backpack).

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Dust masks, mess kit, toothbrushes, clothes, AM/FM radio, etc. This is a pic from before I split everything into two groups, one for each backpack.

I sorted the food into each day's meals and then put them in 3 baggies.

I sorted the food into each day's meals and then put them in 3 baggies.

These are the 3 days worth of food for one person.  I’m tempted to add more chocolate…  I’ve got a bowl of instant oatmeal for the first day.  After that, I have instant oatmeal packets, assuming that you would reuse the bowl from the first day.  These meals can either be eaten cold or put in the microwave, with or without water added.  I’ll check the food in about 6 months to replace anything that will be expiring soon.  Today, I replaced the granola bars with fresh ones.  I’ll eat the ones I took from the kit this week.

The water bottles are in zip bags to keep them from falling all over the place.

The water bottles are in zip bags to keep them from falling all over the place.

To see the post from when I first made my 72-Hour and Emergency Car Kits, please click here.  After originally making my Emergency Car Kit (with the backpack in the post listed in the previous sentence), I found a carry-on suitcase (small and cute) to use instead.  That way, I was able to use the backpack for one of our 72-Hour kits.

I’ve definitely been replacing the water bottles in my car kit on a regular basis, because I often take them out to drink!  There was a time recently when my friend M. and I needed a flashlight.  We were going to go hiking and wanted to take it with us, in case we were still out hiking past sunset.  We searched the car, including the emergency car kit, but couldn’t find a flashlight.  I told myself either my husband or I must have taken it out of the car at some point.  A few days later, I found it in the glove compartment.  Oops.  When I later added water to my car kit, I found that I had written, on my car kit’s inventory list (which I put in the small pocket of the car kit bag), that the flashlight was kept in the glove box.  Oops.

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Making Sushi

In an effort not to go bankrupt from buying sushi everyday, I decided to take action and go about things the Learning to be Frugal way.  I decided to make my own sushi at home.

As a bit of a background, I’ve only taken to liking sushi sometime in the past year.  I love Philly rolls, which have smoked salmon or crab meat, avocado, and cream cheese.  Mmm, cream cheese.  As many of you know, sushi can cost $5 – $8 for 6-12 rolls at a sushi restaurant or grocery store.  I’m blessed with an abundance of sushi locations in my neighborhood.  I can count 6-7 off the top of my head, all within a 10 minute drive from where I live.  Ahhh, sushi.

In addition to my love of sushi, I’ve noticed that my students absoutely love it as well.  At snack or lunch time, the sushi comes out.  Kids ask if they can keep their sushi in my mini-fridge until lunch time.  My students bring seaweed to share at snack time, and I’ve even spotted them passing sheets of seaweed around like you would pass notes during lessons.  It’s quite adorable, if you ask me.

Therefore, to keep myself from going broke, I decided to try my hand at making sushi at home.  That way, I would be able to eat it everyday until I got sick of it.  I invited my good friend, M., over to help.

On the way home from work, I had purchased:

  • rice vinegar
  • a sushi mat
  • sushi rice
  • crab meat strips
  • one avocado
  • one block fat free cream cheese
  • seaweed sheets

These ingredients (and the sushi mat) cost $18, which is just slightly more that I pay for two days’ worth of sushi from the grocery store.  (We ended up making about 4-5 days worth of sushi, and I still had rice, vinegar, cream cheese, and crab leftover for more sushi.)

First, we sliced the avocado and cream cheese.  I covered the sushi mat with plastic wrap, and prepared the rice.  For the rice, I used Alton Brown’s recipe.  (I had also watched a fantastic video of him making rice, watched a Sushi Throwdown episode with Bobby Flay, and closely observed the sushi chef making my sushi at the grocery store.)

For Alton Brown’s recipe, we cooked the rice, heated the vinegar/sugar/salt, cut the vinegar mixture into the rice, and then let it cool to room temperature.  If you use Alton Brown’s recipe and you use regular salt instead of Kosher salt, use less salt than what the recipe calls for, because Kosher salt is bigger than regular salt!

For our first set of sushi, we tried putting the rice on the outside.  That went well, but our fillings were too big.  Thus, our sushi was huge and took two bites to eat.  Plus, the fillings kept coming out.

add-to-website-11Sushi ingredients: rice, crab, cream cheese, avocado
Add rice (wet hands are best)

Add rice (wet hands are best)

Flip over and add ingredients on top (thinner slices are better)

Flip over and add ingredients on top (thinner slices are better)

Roll up and slice (use a very sharp knife)

Roll up and slice (use a very sharp knife)

First homemade sushi, ever (very overstuffed, too)

First homemade sushi, ever (very overstuffed, too)

After we each tried a round of sushi, we decided to slice the crab in half lengthwise and not overlap any ingredients.  Our knife wasn’t sharp enough, so we tried a serrated one, which was much worse.  We did find that having wet hands helps you to spread the rice easier.  The sushi is also smaller if you don’t spread too much rice on the seaweed.

For the second round of sushi, we decided to keep the rice on the inside.

Thinner slices with no overlap this time

Thinner slices with no overlap this time

Rollin', rollin', rollin'....

Rollin', rollin', rollin'....

Round 2 sushi is smaller and better formed

Round 2 sushi is smaller and better formed

Yummy!!!

Yummy!!!

We made the sushi on Friday and still had some leftover on Monday.  Hooray for being frugal and making sushi at home!

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Menu Plan Monday

I’m writing this post on Sunday, and I’ve already got half of what I had planned to make prepared.  I’ve had to add more items to my menu this week.  Lately, I’ve been planning my menu, cooking half of it, and stopping by the store for ready-made food.  To be honest, I did a few sushi runs last week, which led to making my own sushi, but that’s another story.  Here is my menu, including the items I made earlier this afternoon (meatloaf and cheeseburgers).  I may add additional dishes, such as chicken noodle soup or chicken pot pie.  Lately, it’s been cook-what-you feel-like, spur-of-the-moment after getting home from work.
Menu for the week of March 30:

  • Spaghetti with ground beef
  • Garlic breadsticks
  • Salad (From my garden!!!!)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Turkey/beef meatloaf
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Veggies
  • Salad
  • Bun-less cheeseburgers
  • Veggies
  • Salad
  • Pan-fried ham slices
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Veggies
  • Salad

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

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Garden Lettuce

I’ve been getting quite a bit of lettuce from my garden.  I prefer romaine, and I’ve attempted (twice) to plant more from seeds.  I know it’s more expensive, but I definitely prefer transplants to seeds.

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Here is a shrimp salad I made with lettuce from my garden.

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Here are some pictures of the bulbs and snapdragons that I planted in the fall.  They’re blooming very nicely now.

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Menu Plan Monday

This week, my goal is to eat meals from my home food storage.  I want each meal to be made from items I already have in my pantry and freezer.  I also want many of the meals to be ones that my husband can get started on while I’m at work on days that I have to work late.  Last week, for example, my sweet husband got the chicken in the oven, and I was able to immediately get chicken noodle soup started once I got home.  He saved me the step of pre-cooking the chicken.
Menu for the week of March 9:

  • Spaghetti with ground beef
  • Garlic breadsticks
  • Salad (From my garden!!!!)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Steamed vegetables with garlic powder
  • Salad
  • Fresh fruit
  • Breaded tilapia
  • Mac & cheese
  • Raw carrots
  • Salad
  • Cumin-Rubbed Pork Roast
  • Potatoes
  • Veggies
  • Salad

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

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Last weekend, I built a second square-foot gardening box (Click for details: Post 1 and Post 2).  I filled it with a variety of veggie transplants and seeds.  The seeds haven’t had a chance to come up yet, although I spied the beginnings of potato plants beginning to push up the soil in their effort to show themselves.

Here is a pic of the two garden boxes with critter cages:

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My smaller garden box has been going a bit longer.  I’ll be pulling lettuce from it this week.

website-28(Above) On the left, we have a variety of leaf lettuce plants, most of which are romaine.  There is a spinach plant or two hiding near the top, but there’s not much to them right now.  In the middle, we have strawberries, green onions, and onions.  On the right, we have potato plants, all of which came from one potato that I sliced into thirds.  This garden box is 36 in x 30 in and is divided into 9 parts.

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(Above) This is my larger garden box.  It is 4 ft x 4 ft and is divided into 16 squares.  On the left, we have zucchini and potato seeds (not showing yet), as well as marigolds.  In the middle two columns, we have cucumber seeds (top, not showing), bell peppers and a tomato plant, and carrot seeds (one square planted, but not up yet, I’ll plant the other square in a week or two).  On the right, we have another cucumber seed (not showing yet), squash, and marigolds.

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