"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sucker Purchase

Just came home from grocery shopping. I noted that a few items went up in price like milk went up considerably from $13.80 (pesos, MX$) to $15.20 for 1 liter, whereas a few items went down a few pesos in price. I did pick up a few items on sale.

But, I was also shopping for a friend's care package. I always include chicken soup in the items. I could not find "chicken soup." I have not tried the canned "Sopa de Lima", but, I came across some children's canned chicken soup. I bought a few cans because I thought they'd give my friend a laugh.

The children's soup ($27.90 a can) was just one serving. It was good soup.

Whereas, the other canned soups I bought ($14.03 a can) are concentrates. I can make three bowls of soup from one can.

As a consumer, it is important to be aware of packaging, varying sizes, marketing, sales, ingredients, price differences, and more, in order to make smart purchases.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Online Publishers' Customer Service -- Update

3/5/16 UPDATE: In further correspondence with LuLu, they answered my questions fully and promptly which made me happy. Lulu looks good at this point. Now, it's up to me to make sure I made a good file for use on their site.


As an author, for me, good customer service is one of my primary criteria in choosing an online publisher as well as other online services.

As a Smashwords.com author, their customer service is very good in my opinion, which I appreciate.

But, in my search for a POD publisher, I have been less than satisfied with the customer service. Most send you to a "knowledge base" which is often a mishmash of customer comments and do not address specific minute details.

For example,

This reply does not address my question specifically and saying they will respond in x number of days is not reassuring. This is the type of reply I get often from various online services including Blogger.com. From my perspective, this is very unsatisfying.

I can not seem to get POD publishers to understand my request.

I want a POD publisher who will 1) host my POD (made by me) for sales and distribution from their site  2) distribute it to other eTailers and 3) make it available for download as a POD file, so customers can go to their local printer to get a copy made.

I see this as another publishing avenue as seen by the growth of the Espresso Business Machine (http://ondemandbooks.com) but even this program does not address the lack of service in many areas of the world where mail service is costly and delivery times are long. But, if local printers could produce a POD, then customers could go to them to get a print copy of a downloaded POD, much like customers do with photobooks.

I do recognize that POD file formats will vary.

Also, in some cases, using POD publishers can be costly.

I am still researching this issue.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Corny Casserole

While looking for a recipe using corn kernels, I thought of Amy Dacyczyn’s (author of The Tightwad Gazette) Universal Casserole.

Also, I had one can of tuna left and because I had decided not to buy tuna fish anymore for sustainable seafood reasons, I wanted to use the tuna fish in a dish that would be more than one meal. Amy’s casserole was ideal.

The last time I used  Amy’s recipe I called my casserole a Klingon Casserole because it started out looking very green but it came out fine.

With Amy’s universal recipe, you pick an item from each of the six categories then combine them to make the casserole.

Here’s Amy’s recipe:

1     cup main ingredient
1     cup second ingredient
1-2  cups starchy ingredient
1 1/2  cups binder
1/4  cup goodie

Main ingredient: tuna, cubed chicken, turkey, ham, seafood
Second ingredient: sliced celery, mushrooms, peas, chopped hard-boiled eggs
Starchy ingredient: sliced potatoes, cooked noodles or rice
Binder: cream sauce, sour cream, can of soup
Goodie: pimiento, olives, almonds, water chestnuts
Topping: potato chips, cheese, bread crumbs

Choose one item from each category except topping and mix together. If mixture is dry, add 1/2 cup milk or stock. Transfer to buttered or greased casserole. Add topping.

Bake 350 degrees F for 30-45 minutes.

Here’s my recipe. As usual, I used a few items not on her list.

Corny Casserole

1 can tuna fish drained
1 cup creamed corn
1 pkg spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 can mushroom soup
3 palmfuls of sliced almonds, crushed manually
Lots of bread crumbs


First, cook the noodles in a separate pot.

Then in a microwavable casserole dish, add the tuna fish, creamed corn, spaghetti, soup (straight out of the can, don’t add water), almonds, and mix thoroughly. Next, spread bread crumbs over the top of the whole casserole. I spread a thick layer.

Microwave on high for 15 minutes.

My largest casserole dish worked pretty good but I held out a small portion of cooked noodles to make sure I did not overfill the dish.

When I grabbed a can of corn. I did not realize it was a can of creamed corn meant for another recipe, but I went ahead anyway.

The tienda (mom and pop convenience store) near me sells bags of seasoned croutons. I buy alot of them. I use them in my crazy salads. I save the crumbs. These are what I used as topping.

I use an empty parmesan cheese container with the sprinkle or scoop option top to hold the leftover bread crumbs and I store this in the freezer. Surprising, they keep well and you don't need to thaw them out.

I call this one a Monster Casserole because it looked yellow but it came out pretty good, too.

For More Information:
Sustainable Seafood: http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/seafoodguide/

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Microwave: Instant Imitation Colcannon

I don't pretend this recipe resembles the true Irish dish: Colcannon.

Below are steps to make one generous serving.

Instant Imitation Colcannon


5 full tablespoons instant mashed potatoes
Hot water as needed
2 dollops of milk
1 Tspn butter
3 full TBspns sauerkraut
1Tspn Onion powder
1 Tspn Garlic powder
2 Tspns Veggie Bacon Bits
1-2 Tspns Horseradish sauce
2 Dashes Paprika
Ground black pepper
S/P to taste


Add instant potatoes to bowl.
Add a bit of hot water, stir.
Add enough hot water to make the potato flakes thicken, stir.
Add milk, stir thoroughly.
If too thick, add more milk.
If too thin, add more instant potatoes.
Add butter. Stir.
Add sauerkraut.
Add onion and garlic powders
Add horseradish sauce.
Add bacon bits.
Add ground black pepper and paprika.
Stir to mix ingredients thoroughly.
S/P to taste.

Some Colcannon Recipe Sources:

Updated: 4/21/20


As you will see, I am getting into Wraps big time.

I am not a gourmet as these recipes make clear. I just shoot for healthy and tasty.

It started with a Lunch Meat Wrap where I spread cream cheese over a large flour tortilla. Then added diced olives, a handful of shredded carrots, a dash of ground black pepper, then put a slice of  turkey lunch meat on top and rolled it up. Yum.

Then, I made a Chicken Salad Wrap, see previous post.

Then, I made Chicken Pineapple Wrap using another chicken slice from a Chinese take out meal, I diced a slice, added diced tomato, onion,  a few chunks of pineapple and sprinkled a bit of curry powder over the items. Yummy.

Now, my Egg Breakfast Wrap is still a work in progress but the good news is I made a cup of
scrambled eggs in the microwave and it came out perfect. 

For the scrambled eggs, I used a small coffee cup not a mug. I broke one egg into the cup and added a dollop of milk. Then, whipped it together with a fork until it was well-mixed. Cooked it one minute on high in the microwave.

After placing the eggs on the tortilla, I added diced chicken, tomato, onions and a dab of refried beans. My spice is ground black pepper. The only problem was I made enough for two wraps, so it spilled over.

I love "finger food" and the best thing about Wraps is fewer dirty dishes. It's almost like put it together and eat.

Making Wraps has stimulated my imagination, so I am thinking of other items to use. Hmm, what can I do with oysters, apples, potatoes, capers, mushrooms, vegetables.......

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Another Frugal Almuerzo - Chicken Salad Wrap

Chicken Salad Wrap

While this is another frugal lunch, it also demonstrates why I enjoy being frugal.

I am not an artist nor am I truly creative but being frugal does stimulate my imagination and creativity as well as challenging my cooking skills.

Plus, I continue to try and get my meal costs lower.

When I get my servicio de domicilio almuerzo (lunch) ($70 pesos with tip = 3 meals) delivered once a week, it comes with about five corn tortillas. I don’t usually eat them with my meal, I often put them on a plate, microwave them for 2 minutes on each side and make corn chips. But, today, I decided to make chicken wraps.

When I get Chinese carryout ($88 with tip) about once a month, I can make about 4-5 meals out of it.

Dicing a few pieces of chicken from my Chinese takeout, I mixed in 1/4 diced red onion, a heaping tablespoon of mayo, a few chunks of pineapple, a few grinds of ground black pepper, and a dash of lemon juice. Using corn tortillas from my servicio de domicilio, I had enough for more than two chicken wraps.

I have found a new way to increase the number of meals I can get from my servicio de domicillo and Chinese takeout!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016