Sunday, August 19, 2018

Of rambutan and meal prep

By Elizabeth Prata

Good morning! Did you ever have a long enough's night sleep and wake up the next morning expecting to be refreshed, but you aren't? Or get a good night's sleep and wake the next morning and leap out of bed with tons of energy? Both happened to me this weekend. Once on Saturday and once on Sunday. Back to back, I'm perplexed. Oh well, I'll take the good night's sleep and morning energy bonanza where and when I can, lol.

A while ago I'd discovered that one of my favorite authors, John Grisham, had written a book of short stories. You know the excitement when you think you've read all there is from your favorite author but you find one more? Like that. I found a hardcover at Amazon for cheap and combined with my points got the last book the seller had for $3.00. I can't wait till it arrives! Later Grishams have been disappointing, but this is a very early book and those, by gum, were really good. So anticipating a new book I can dive right into is always fun.

I got up early to do some cooking. I didn't do any meal prep last weekend and though I had plenty to eat and packing lunches wasn't a burden, I did have to scramble at night when I got home. I'm tired when I get home, and I want just to open the fridge and grab some dinner without a lot of fuss or standing there to cook it. The items I grabbed for dinner last week were hummus and crackers, rice cakes, seaweed chips... but that's not enough of a dinner to sustain me.

I need to eat whole food, non-processed, with no preservatives or my stomach will rebel. That means I have to make myself every meal I eat, and think carefully about every snack I ingest. Rice cakes and seaweed chips are on the edge of manageability for my belly since they are processed, but they have barely any ingredients so I can usually eat them in moderation. But I do need to go easy on them and make them an infrequent snack and not a meal substitute. My usual snacks are fruit or homemade granola. Sometimes a few peanuts if I haven't put them all in the granola.

Anyway, so as not to repeat my mistake from last week, this morning I made:

--Quinoa to have on hand to sprinkle on salads, or to have as warmed over cereal
--Spicy chili. There was a sale on avocados so those will go on top, with sour cream too. ;)
--Baba ganoush, an eggplant dip with tahini and lemon. It's garden time and a friend gave me three eggplants. So...reduce them down into a dip!!
--Fig preserves. A friend gave me a gallon bag of figs, so I made preserves with them, and kept a few back to have as fresh into cottage cheese etc.
--Granola. I use this as cereal, snacks, or to put in cottage cheese.

I use whatever my friends give me and I do not waste any of it if I can help it.

Last week there was a markdown on some weird looking fruit., It was reddish and hairy like a sea urchin. Since the bag of them was only 99 cents, of course I bought it. 99 cents is a small price to pay for experimenting, and for potentially having a new world of fruit opened up to me. Here is what they looked like

You put a sharp knife into the end of it and slice all around from north pole to south. You don't press so hard you slice into the fruit, but only through the skin. Inside the fruit's center is an almond shaped pit. The fruit is about the sizeof a ping pong ball or a bit smaller. It's juicy.

They are called Rambutan, I discovered, and they look and taste like a lychee fruit. I do not like lychee fruit. I did not like rambutan. I ate one of them and threw out the other 4. So only 79 cents wasted and aside from the reddish one in the picture the others were really over-ripe anyway.

The fruit is from Malaysia and actually rambutan means hair in Malay, an apt name, lol. The fruit contains a high amount of fiber and iron, and is sweet and juicy. If you like lychee you'll like rambutan. Nevertheless, I think I will skip the rambutan next time. I've been there and done that.

I cooked my heart out this morning and my fridge is full. It was a hot and busy two and a half hours but worth it. I've already packed my chili serving for lunch tomorrow and I'm looking forward to church at 3:00 later today. But first, a nap.

Have a good week ahead everyone. By the way, I'm really looking forward to this hot weather easing up and getting some fall leaf colors going, pumpkins on the doorstep, wearing long sleeved comfy shirts, and snappy air evenings. Aren't you? Fall, you're on your way and I'll greet you happily when you get here. Fall also means hot tea season!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Lemon myrtle tea and spider lilies

By Elizabeth Prata

It's been a hot week here in northeast Georgia, but that is to be expected. It's August, in Georgia. I look forward to pumpkins, clear nights, no humidity, lap blankets, open windows, and cider.

Meanwhile, after a long day after my car's been in the hot parking lot, when I get into it to go home the seat belt buckle scorches my hands. The steering wheel is too hot to touch. The air in the car is so oven-like it's hard to breathe. The air outside the car is like walking through a wet shower curtain. But enough of the joys of living in Georgia in August.

This first week of school with the kids was terrific. They are cute kiddos and they seemed to settle into the routine pretty well. For a while it truly was herding cats. But cute cats.

I came home with take-out and sank gratefully into my kitchen chair in the air conditioning, and then turned to my stash of tea to select a dessert beverage. I selected a new tea I just got in this week, Lemon Myrtle from Boh Teas in Malaysia. Lemon Myrtle has a high citrus content. It is made from the lemon myrtle plant's leaves, (Backhousia citriodora) which are native to Australia. As with most herbal teas, it has various healthful properties and it also tastes good! I am also going to try this as an iced tea.

Tomorrow I'll do my usual ministry duties: write a blog or two or three, prepare scripture pictures to post this week, answer emails, clean out my laptop folders, etc. I'll also do the usual chores, and cooking on Sunday. I'll read. I plan to play with some photos I took on Thursday around the yard, of some pretty flowers called red spider lily (of the amaryllis family). Here is a preview:

I love that there are flowers in the yard. In addition to the spider lily we have crepe myrtle too, and morning glories.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. :)

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Vipon & Amazon = A match made in heaven

By Elizabeth Prata

I love When it was invented I latched right on to it. I dislike shopping, stores, driving, and crowds. Therefore, I rarely go shopping and only for necessities and only after I've procrastinated till the bitter end.

I'm also very frugal, shepherding my money carefully and rarely making purchases, and those things that I do buy are most of the time needs rather than wants.

The thought of buying something and having it delivered right to my door was thrilling. I didn't even have to go to the Post Office it comes to your house. Amazon, you had me at 'online.'

This week, I discovered these online Amazon coupons called Vipon. The coupon website offers discounts for regular Amazon items that range from 20% to 100% off. This hit my frugal little heart like water on a sea monkey. The coupons are timed, but the period of time they are available isn't short, it's days. And there are so many to choose from, if I miss one, there are many other items I can search for. The one item Vipon does not seem to offer discounts on Amazon for, are books. But all manner of hard goods are offered.

You have to sign up for Vipon but it's not a scam. Signing up involves just that, plugging in an ID and a password. No strings. Then you browse. When you see an item you like you click on it for more information. At that point I go separately to Amazon and read up on the item, including the reviews. (Just like I always do). If I like what I read, I go back to Vipon and click 'get coupon'. When you do that it gives you a code and sends you straight to the Amazon page of the item you want. You just plug in the code at checkout and see your price go from say, $10 to $5 or whatever the discount amount offered.

There is a limit of how many coupons you can get in on month, but the limit is 150, and I don't buy that manythings in a year so nevermind. Even for vigorous shoppers 150 is a generous limit. The limit for coupons within a 24-hour period is 20 vouchers.

The only requirement Vipon asks is that for every 20 deals, at least, you leave feedback to the seller, or a review. Here is the link to the Vipon About page.

I've bought three things so far. One has been shipped and arrived. The item that arrived was a tunic dress (to wear as a long shirt or with leggings) and was exactly as advertised. At the time at Amazon it cost $14.00. I bought it for $7.00, for a 50% discount. It was eligible for Amazon Prime, so I received it in 2 days. I have not tried it on yet, but if the item doesn't suit, it can be returned, just like normal.

I also found some wonderful tea. I'm always on the hunt for a smooth and delicious new tea, but often really good and exotic tea is expensive. I found a Malaysian tea I was interested in. I never had a tea that was not from the dominant tea producing countries, such as China or India. So I looked these teas up on Amazon and I've never seen such a uniform review from purchasers. The purchasers rated these two teas as 4 or 5-stars. Reviewers noted that the tea making process in Malaysia was slightly different and resulted in a smooth tea. OK, for this price I can try it out.

I decided on Boh Teas, a well-regarded company (I'd never heard of) in flavors of Peppermint, Chamomile and Lemon Mrytle. There are 25 teabags in each box. I purchased them for 50% off and so in the end, each box of tea cost only $2.05. Free shipping. This is less than I can get a box of regular tea at Kroger.

I also purchased Boh Lime with Ginger and Lemon with Mandarin. This one will be a 40-count order. So it looks like I am set with tea for a while. The Vipon discount was 50% off, so at $2.30 for each box, again, it cost the same or less than I can buy even at the Dollar Store.

The upshot is that for a total of $17, I have a new dress-tunic for work or church, and enough tea to last me the school year. All I had to do is plug in a copied code at checkout and write a review once in a while. I recommend Vipon, the best coupon-ing system I've discovered. If, as time goes on, my attitude changes, I'll let you know.