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Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Musings: Week 29 -- Taking a Break

This gal is taking a much needed break. 

I'll still keep track of my spending, but there won't be any posts for couple of weeks.

Thanks for stopping by. I'll see you again soon.

Kathleen

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday Eats and Treats: 10-Minute Pork Fried Rice

If you read last week's post, then you understand why I'm sharing this recipe with you.
PORK:(Singing to the tune of Amazing Grace.) "I once was dry, but now I'm moist. Was tasteless, but now I'm great." 


10-Minute Pork Fried Rice

A bit of meat and several cups of leftover, cooked rice make this main dish a breeze to prepare. Feel free to make substitutions. This tastes almost identical to restaurant fried rice. (Serves 6 people or 4 hungry teens -- not that hungry teens aren't people, too.)

Ingredients
4 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked pork (or beef, chicken, or shrimp) - cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional) - I used 2 fresh mild jalapeno peppers, chopped very fine
1/2 large carrot, shredded
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger or 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed or i tsp.garlic powder
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. olive oil or sesame oil
1egg, beaten
2-3 whole green onions, sliced

If your pork is dry, prep it in the following way:
 2-3 T oil 
2 tsp. soy sauce 
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sherry or red wine 
1 tsp. garlic powder

  1. Combine in a saucepan and heat gently.
  2. Pour evenly over dry pork and toss until all liquid is absorbed. Proceed with recipe.

Directions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil until sizzling. Then add rice, meat, peas (or peppers), carrot, ginger and garlic.
  2. Once heated, stir in the soy sauce, then turn the heat to medium-high.
  3. Make a well in the center of the rice, add the beaten egg, and stir the rice slowly around the pan until the egg turns white and begins to "string." Cook the egg thoroughly.
  4. Toss in green onions.
  5. Serve immediately.     

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Musings: Week 28


Crazy busy summer days abound at the Newman household. Syd is chaperoning our church youth at camp for the week. Esther and Gideon will be joining him. Since Josiah hasn’t spent any time with his buddy Truman all summer, the two of them plan to have lots of time together this week. The girls and David will be working, so I’m looking at a week of intense working and catching up.

I’ve made a list of at least 4 weeks of things that I’d like to accomplish. Rather than let myself get overwhelmed by all the things I’m not getting done, I plan to prioritize and do the most important things first. I was reminded last week that every time we say “Yes” to something, then we are, by necessity, saying “No” to someone or something else. The important thing is to discern what things I should say “Yes” to –- where God wants me to invest my time, energy, and efforts. I look forward to this week of quiet mornings to spend time in prayer and reflection, discovering exactly what those “Yes” answers should be. 

Here are my stats for week 28.                 

Week 28 Spending
Groceries  
$164
Clothing
$10
Gifts                  
$19
Total  
$193
Transfer to Savings
$200



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesday Eats and Treats: Ten Ways to Rescue Dry Pork and the story of how we got to the point where we needed this information

It was a great idea…really, it was. For Independence Day, we had about 40 friends and family members to our home for our annual 4th of July Extravaganza. Some of our guests planned to stay overnight, so my brother, Patrick, generously offered to bring two pork loins for grilling on Saturday. It was about time to start the meat when I asked him to get it. “Oh, no! It’s still in the freezer.” (That's not exactly what he said, but since this is a G-rated blog, we'll go with it. J) The meat was frozen solid, I had about 15 hungry folks to feed, and there wasn’t an alternate meat choice. After unsuccessfully contacting the local store to see if the owner might be able to cut the loins with his meat saw, Syd and Patrick pulled a classic “You Might be a Redneck If…” move. Patrick headed out to his truck, returned with his Saws-All reciprocating saw, and they proceeded to cut the pork loin into boneless pork chops.
Once out at the grill, it was one crisis after another. The propane tank ran out of fuel. The replacement tank had a regulator leak. Syd moved the meat to the charcoal grill which took forever to get a fire going. By the time we sat down to dinner, every one of those lovely boneless pork chops was as dry as an old boot. The only way to get it down was slathering it in BBQ sauce.

Needless to say, there was a lot of leftover meat. Figuring I wasn’t the only person to experience this problem, I began an internet search to find ways to salvage the meat. Below are the best ideas I found.

Ten Ways to Rescue Dry Pork

C   Even though pork loin is not the best choice for chili Verde, in order to utilize what you have on hand, cut it into chunks and fry it and then simmer it in a chili Verde sauce. Adding the extra fat might redeem its dry condition somewhat, and a rich and spicy sauce would add more interesting flavors.
Help "bring it back” a little by slicing it in 1/2 inches slices and then warming the slices in a mix of Marsala, chicken broth or vegetable broth to which some garlic has been added. You'll need enough liquid to cover a little over 1/2.so about 3/8 of an inch in skillet. Heat the liquid first to just below boiling. Add the loin slices and cover the pan; heat 3-4 minutes, flip them and heat another 2 or so. If you want, sauté some onion in the skillet before adding the liquids. Serve with a little "pan juice" drizzled over them.
C  Another alternative is to rough chop the remainder and add some BBQ and vinegar and make fake pulled pork sandwiches
C  Dice or cube the pork loin and mix into a salad, omelets, frittata, or fried rice.
C  Slice thinly and add to noodle soup -- like a Chinese hot and sour soup, or a pho. Slice it in thin strips for these purposes, for tenderness (what you can get) and ease of eating.
C  Reheat thin slices in some broth or a nice sauce, and serve it over noodles or rice or on a crusty baguette.
C  Heat in chicken broth. Add some herbs and some broth and heat up as a main course or for a sandwich, or just wrap in foil with some broth and throw in the oven.
C  Resuscitate the roast by shredding the meat and simmering in liquid to make a delicious taco filling. Use onions, garlic, orange juice, tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin, Mexican oregano, various Chile powders, and some sherry vinegar. The meat will be tender. Use the meat on a tortilla with some cilantro, maybe onion, and fresh salsa of your choice. For your pork roast, maybe a tomatillo-chipotle salsa...
C  Sliced and julienned, soaked in some chicken broth, soy, rice wine vinegar and sherry for a few hours, remove the meat and heat the sauce. Stir fry some veggies, or make some pasta or rice with veggies. About 3 minutes before ready, throw the pork into the hot marinade to heat(take it off the heat)
C  Best thing to do is to braise in some liquid and aromatics to create a sauce. Basically make smothered chops. Take some onion, carrot and pepper or other similar veggies and cut into strips, sauté and deglaze pan with wine, stock, tomato sauce, etc. Nestle chops in sauce, cover and cook on low until chops are tender. Serve chops with noodles/rice/pasta and the sauce.

I chose the pork fried rice option. I’ll share the recipe, pictures, and reviews next Wednesday. Until then, contact me for Patrick's number if you have any butchering needs.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Musings: Weeks 26 & 27 -- 6 Months Into Our Challenge

It’s already July and summer is in full swing. It's hard to believe we're halfway through our spending challenge. After the weekly stats, I’ve included a 2nd quarter spending chart and a chart compiling my household spending and savings for the first half of 2014. If you want to review my 1st quarter spending, look here.

Here are my stats.

Week 26's spending was the smallest ever. (It's amazing how easy it is to stop spending when you hardly leave the house!) Then I made up for it in Week 27. In my defense, we did have a 4th of July party that required extra grocery expenditures.
                   
Week 26 Spending
 Groceries    
$45
Total  
$45

Week 27 Spending
Groceries   (includes extended family 4th of July Party)
$213
Toiletries
$26
Gifts                  
$8
Total  
$247

Second Quarter Spending (Weeks 14-26)
Category
Spent
Budgeted 
Savings
Groceries
$1411
$2100
$689
Miscellaneous
$94
$360         
$266
School
$56
$150
$94
Entertainment
$112
$225
$113
Toiletries
$120
$150
$30
Piano Lessons
$60
$240
$180
Clothing
$128
$180
$52
Gifts
$153
$225
$72
Hair Care
$17
$90
$73
Benevolence
$48
$105
$57
Discretionary Cash
$40
$75
$35
Total  
$2239
$3900
$1661

Combining data from the 1st and 2nd quarters gives us the 6-month report.
6 Months Spending (Weeks 1-26)
Category
Spent
Budgeted 
Savings
Groceries
$2877
$4200
$1323
Miscellaneous
$117
$720        
$603
School
$307
$300
-($7)
Entertainment
$444
$450
$6
Toiletries
$294
$300
$6
Piano Lessons
$140
$480
$340
Clothing
$174
$360
$186
Gifts
$258
$450
$192
Hair Care
$17
$180
$163
Benevolence
$48
$210
$162
Discretionary Cash
$115
$150
$35
6 Month Total  
$4791
$7800
$3009




Orthodontist
$2666
$0
-($2666)
FINAL TOTAL
$7457
$7800
$343


Here are some thoughts.

! In the 6 months we’ve participated in the spending challenge, I’ve saved over $3000 -- 39% of my household budget. I’ve done this by following the “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” principle. During that time, I’ve only gone over budget in my school category. This has mainly been due to basketball-related expenses which I probably should have included in my miscellaneous category.

! With the $3009 savings, we were able to make a one-time cash payment for our daughter’s braces. We received a $140 discount for paying up front. After the braces payment, we’ve still saved $343.

! Not spending money on unnecessary items has become a habit for me. I maintain a shopping list, and I stick to it. I don’t wander in stores, and I stay away from the clearance aisle unless I’m looking for a specific item.

! Our quality of life really hasn’t declined. We’ve been more creative in cooking and entertainment choices. The kids are being more selective as they are required to use their spending money.

! We’re finding ways to repair things that we previously would have cast aside and replaced, and we’re realizing that we don’t really need a lot of the things we thought we couldn’t live without.

! I’m spending time on creative pursuits as I make gifts and “make do.” Having a creative outlet is an important way in which I feed my soul, and I’m glad our spending challenge has “forced” me back into it.

! Taking on a de-cluttering mission while being fully involved with a spending challenge, working a freelance job requiring 20-30 hours each week, home-educating 3 children, caring for a family and running a household is just way too much. I’ve decided to set aside the de-cluttering and plan to take it back up next January if things calm down a bit.