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

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Ria's DIY Muesli

Below is a recipe for Homemade Granola from The Tightwad Gazette. While I did not make the granola, it gave me the idea to make a DIY Muesli. That is one of the things I like about the Tightwad Gazette, one idea can stimulate other frugal ideas.

The Tightwad Gazette p27
Homemade Granola


3/4 C brown sugar
1/3 C vegetable oil
1/3 honey
5 C oatmeal
1/2 C raisins*
1/2 C dry milk
3/4 Tspn cinnamon
a pinch of salt


Mix sugar, oil and honey in a pot.
Heat until sugar dissolved.
Combine dry ingredients in a separate cake pan.
Pour sugar mixture over dry mixture. Mix well.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Let cool in pan.
Store in an airtight container.

Optional: add nuts, wheat germ, coconut, dates, etc.

*Add raisins after cooking.

Ria's DIY Muesli

I had some leftover bran cereal and decided to make a Muesli.

While the definition of Muesli is a breakfast cereal of Swiss origin consisting of rolled oats, nuts, and fruit (Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/muesli), I decided to Use What I have on hand to make a breakfast cereal mix similar to Muesli.


Leftover bran cereal
Nuts, crushed
Dry blueberries
Almond slivers


Using a jar, I filled it with the leftover bran cereal, then added 1 to 2 TBspns of the remaining ingredients, raisins, dried blueberries, nuts, and almond slivers.

Then I shook the jar to mix the contents.

After pouring a serving of the cereal mix into a bowl, I topped it with 1/2 TBspn of Chia seeds and some banana slices. I am not sure if I want to add the Chia seeds to the jar of cereal mix.

Options: top with fresh fruit like sliced banana, apple or other fruits.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Quasi-DIY Lipstick

Quasi-DIY Lipstick

Over the years, many of my various lipsticks had been used down to the nub.

So, following a Tightwad Gazette tip, I scooped out the remains of about five used tubes into a small glass jar. Then, I microwaved the contents for about 1 minute on high to melt the contents.

After the jar cooled, I used a cosmetic lip brush to spread the mixture as lipstick.

The used lipsticks were of a variety of colors and brands, from light cream to deep mauve, including lip glosses and lip balm. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the color and texture of the mixture.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Toast Topping - Poached Egg with Matcha

An article in Taste featured the food trend of using Matcha, a green tea powder, as a seasoning. The article raved about a poached egg on buttered toast seasoned with rock salt and Matcha. I was less impressed.

Poached Egg with Rock Salt & Matcha
(Adpated from: https://www.tastecooking.com/subtle-revolution-matcha-poached-eggs/)

1 slice bread of your choice
1 egg
Olive oil
salt and Matcha mixture

I made a poached egg (http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-perfectly-poach-an-egg-in-the-microwave-2016-6)) and toasted a slice of wheat bread in a skillet with olive oil. After topping the toast with the poached egg, I seasoned the egg with a mixture of rock salt and Matcha.

I normally do not use salt. Everything tastes better with salt, so I was not impressed by this recipe. Maybe the Matcha added some flavor but it was not easily detectable to me, but I am not going to give up trying to learn to use Matcha in various recipes, new or standard.

Toast Topping - Hummus

Hummus Mixture
(Adapted from: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/14830/hummus-iii/?internalSource=hub%20recipe&referringId=1281&referringContentType=recipe%20hub and https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/hummus/)


1 Can Garbanzo beans, drained
1/8 C Lime juice concentrate
1/2 Tspn garlic powder
1 TB Olive oil
2 Dashes paprika
1/2 Tspn parsley, dry, crushed

S/P to taste 


In a bowl, add garbanzo beans and mash them until you can not discern a partial bean.
Add other ingredients, stir and mix well.

Spread 1-2 TB on toast.

Note: Most Hummus recipes are used as dips and the paprika and parsley are garnishes. This recipe is to make a toast topping spread, so I mixed in the paprika and parsley.

Toast Topping - Pseudo Pesto Mixture

This is my first pesto something, was not sure what to expect.

I do not know what I made. It tastes good but is more of a spread than a sauce.

I was overwhelmed by the volume of spices the recipe called for. I did not realize I did not have enough of any of them, so I tried to downsize the recipe.

Also, is it really a Toast Topping?

Pseudo Pesto Mixture
(Adapted from: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbook:Pesto)


1/3 C Basil, dry, crushed
1 C Olive Oil
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
3 level Tspns garlic powder
1/3 C parsley, dry, crushed

1 level Tspn rock salt and Matcha mix (Matcha, optional)
1/4 C Peanuts or almonds, crushed (Optional)

Basically, mix ingredients together thoroughly. Store in refrigerator.

Toast Topping - Avocado Mixture

Avocado Mixture


1 Avocado
1- 2 TB olive oil
1 TB Parsley, dry, crushed
1 Capful Lime Juice concentrate



After cutting avocado in half and removing the large seed, scoop out the avocado flesh and place in a small bowl or storage container.

Add olive oil. 
Mash and stir the avocado flesh and oil until smooth.
Add parsley and lime juice.
Stir well.

Spread 1-2 TB on toast.

Updated 8/12/18.

Toast Topping - Eggplant Mixture

Eggplant Mixture
(Adapted from: https://www.buzzfeed.com/food52/how-to-microwave-eggplant?utm_term=.ilrvlzM3d#.rwmo6QJdW)


1 eggplant
1/4 C Soy sauce
2 TB Cilantro, dry, crushed
1 TB Red wine vinegar
3 Dashes of garlic powder
3/8 oz Ginger paste


Cut eggplant in half.
Slice flesh with criss-cross hatch marks.
Place flesh side up in microwave dish.
Mix other ingredients together.
Cover eggplant with mixture.
Rub mixture into flesh.
Flip eggplant halves over.
Pour remaining mixture into dish to soak eggplant.
Cover dish with plastic wrap.
Microwave on high for 10 minutes.
Remove and let cool.
Spoon out eggplant flesh from skin into a bowl.
Pour remaining sauce from cooking dish into bowl.
Stir and mash well.

Spread about 1-2 TB of eggplant mixture on toast.

Toast Topping - Mushroom Mixture

Mushroom Mixture
(Adapted from: https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g2293/toast-recipes/ and https://www.recipetineats.com/mushroom-bruschetta-balsamic-thyme/)


1 8oz can of mushrooms, drained
Olive oil for skillet
2 TB Balsamic vinegar
1 Tspn sugar
1 TB Thyme, dry crushed
2 Dashes hot pepper sauce

s/p to taste
a Dash of garlic powder (Optional)


Add mushrooms to skillet.
Saute over medium heat.
Add vinegar and sugar, stir. Add thyme, pepper sauce and s/p.
Stir and mix well.

Remove from hot plate or stovetop.
Sprinkle toast with garlic powder, spread 1-2 TB of mushroom mixture on toast.

Toast Toppings - New Food Craze

 Note: Look for updates below.

Instead of posting each new Toast Topping combination separately, I will just add them here.

I am into a new food craze, Toast Toppings. I eat them mainly for breakfast and/or late evening meal.

Like Crazy Salads, you can get inventive with the various toppings.

Toast Toppings are like a mini-meal or half a sandwich. What I like is I feel I can get essential vitamins, minerals and healthy herbs and spices without having to eat full portions or three-course meals.

Toast Toppings
(Adapted from: https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/diet-nutrition/14-fillings-toast-toppings-100-calories/ , https://www.rd.com/food/recipes-cooking/toast-topping-snack-recipes/ , https://www.buzzfeed.com/tashweenali/energy-boosting-breakfast-toasts?utm_term=.jujMxRb9n4#.rx1ZPvO0KE, https://mykidslickthebowl.com/healthy-toast-toppings/, https://spoonuniversity.com/recipe/10-unique-toast-toast-toppings-that-aren-t-avocado)

Basically, toast a slice of bread, any kind, and top with a variety of topping choices.

I don't have a toaster. I use a skillet. I add a bit of oil and then toast slices of wheat or integral bread on both sides.

Then, I spread 1-2 Tablespoons of the following items or mixtures or other items:

Peanut Butter
-with banana slices with cinnamon

-with blueberries or other fruit slices

Beans on Toast

Black Beans and Salsa

Refried Beans with salsa, topped with poached egg

Cream Cheese with
-cucumber slices with basil
-blueberries or other fruit
-banana slices with cinnamon

Mozzarella Cheese slivers placed on bread slice while toasting the bottom to soften and warm, then remove and top with 1-2 tspns of canned salsa and a sprinkle of dry crushed basil

Scrambled eggs

Poached Egg with or without salt and Matcha mixture

Avocado mash with lime, garnish parsley

Avocado mash, topped with poached egg and Garam Masala

Avocado Mixture

Pseudo Pesto Mixture
Hummus Mixture
Eggplant Mixture
Mushroom Mixture
Mashed Baked Potato Mixture

Pictured: Toast Toppings - Mozzarella Cheese with salsa; Poached Egg with Matcha; Scrambled Egg with salsa and Matcha; and Hummus.

See blog for recipes for above mixtures.

Toast Toppings Updates:


Cream cheese with a layer of canned salmon, topped with some leftover slaw from carryout, a sprinkle of onion powder, and a few capers.
(Adapted from: https://bestfriendsforfrosting.com/smoked-salmon-and-cream-cheese-toast/)


Small, thin wedges of cheddar cheese, spinach, bacon bits, ground black pepper, strips of slice of jamon lunchmeat, Chile Chipotle Mayonesa, paprika...Add cheddar cheese wedges on top of one side of toasted bread while toasting other side in skillet, cover, cook less than a minute to avoid burning toast. Add cooked spinach, sprinkle with bacon bits and ground black pepper. Top with jamon strips. Add a bit of Chipotle mayonesa, sprinkle with paprika.

 Types of "Toast":

Bread, various types
Fried tortilla, flour or maize
Pre-toasted pan/bread


Toast Topping: Cottage cheese, cucumber slices, onion powder, black pepper, paprika, parmesan cheese

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Toast Topping - Mashed Baked Potato Mixture

Mashed Baked Potato Mixture

This is a 2-step recipe. First, cook the potatoes, then make the mixture.


4 medium Yucatan white potatoes

4 TB Mashed potatoes
1 TB heaping, Mayo
2 Capfuls lime juice concentrate
2 TB garbanzo beans
2 Tspns paprika
a dash of vinegar
s/p to taste


Step One: First cook the potatoes.

Clean potatoes.
Pierce several times with a fork.
Place in microwave dish.
Microwave on High for 6-8 minutes until soft. Test softness by piercing with a fork, if the fork goes through easily, the potato is done.

Cut cooked potatoes into cubes.

Step Two: Make the mixture.

Add 4 TBs of potato cubes to a storage container.
Add Garbanzo beans.
Mash potatoes and beans until smooth mixture.

Add Mayo, lime juice, paprika, vinegar, s/p.
Stir mixture until thoroughly mixed.

Note: Any remaining potatoes can be used to make potato salad.

Spread 1-2 TB of potato mixture on toast.

Variation: consider adding mustard

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Great Depression Cooking With Clara - Pasta and Peas

I had heard of Clara's cooking show on YouTube years ago but during a recent random search on YouTube, I found her videos. Also, found Clara on @food52.
"In 2007, her grandson Christopher Cannucciari began filming Clara preparing her mother's Depression meals and assembled the footage into the YouTube series Great Depression Cooking with Clara. She retired shortly after her 96th birthday and her last video was posted on November 10, 2013 (Twice Baked Potato)"  (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Cannucciari)
You can find Clara's recipes and more in her book, Clara's Kitchen, Wisdom, Memories and Recipes from the Great Depression (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/claras-kitchen-clara-cannucciari/1101904999#/).

I watched several of Clara's videos. I was particularly impressed with her dandelion salad. But, her Pasta and Peas Recipe caught my attention because it was a perfect recipe to use for my leftover cooked potatoes, peas, and pasta.

Clara's Pasta and Peas Recipe
(Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuMkW35BwK8)


1 Potato, diced
1 Onion, diced
Olive oil
1 Can of peas, drained
1 Bag of pasta macaroni


Put potatoes and onion in a pan.
Add a dash or two of olive oil.

Cook until soft.
Add peas
Add enough water to cook pasta.

Simmer until pasta is cooked.
Season to taste.

Variation: add some tomato sauce.

Serve a portion on a plate, top with Parmesan cheese.

Leftover Potatoes, Peas and Pasta
(Adapted from Great Depression Cooking with Clara, Pasta and Peas, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuMkW35BwK8)

I made Clara's recipe backwards in order to use my leftovers.


1/2 Bag package pasta
LO Cooked potatoes
LO Canned peas
1 tsp Onion powder
2 TB Olive oil
s/p to taste
Hot sauce to taste
Topping: Parmesan cheese


Make pasta first. When ready, drain most of water.

Note: I call the pasta I used in this recipe "Octopus Pasta" because I have never seen pasta in such an unusual shape.

Add leftover potatoes and peas.
Add onion powder and olive oil.

Season to taste with s/p and hot sauce.
Stir well, cook on medium-low for a few minutes to make mixture warm.

Serve warm, top with a few shakes of Parmesan cheese

Thank you Clara.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Matchstick Zucchini and Almonds

Matchstick Zucchini and Almonds
(Adapted from: https://smittenkitchen.com/2007/08/quick-zucchini-saute/)

After bringing home a few vegetables from a local market, I needed to find ways to prepare them.

(1 dragonfruit, 1 chayote, 2 patty pan squash, 1 zucchini, 1 camote, and 1 beet)

Found an interesting zucchini recipe, Quick Zucchini Sauté,  on SmittenKitchen which I adapted to my circumstances.


1 Zucchini
olive oil for skillet
a handful of almond slivers
Parmesan cheese


After cutting off the tip and end of the Zucchini, I cut it in half, then into quarters. But cutting the zucchini into matchsticks was a challenge; dicing and julienne are not skills I possess.

But, I finally got a batch of thin zucchini strips

After putting oil in the skillet, set on medium, and adding a handful of almond slivers, I had to be careful not to burn the almond slivers before adding the zucchini strips. As the recipe suggests, you are trying to toast the almonds not burn them.

Sorry for the really lousy picture. After stirring and mixing the zucchini strips with the almonds and oil, I removed the skillet from the burner.

After putting the mixture on a plate, I sprinkled it with a bit of Parmesan cheese.

But, I did not use the whole zucchini, so now I have to find more ways to use zucchini.

My First Beet

I thank two authors, Amy Dacyczyn (The Tightwad Gazette) and Jack Monroe (Cooking on a Bootstrap) for inspiring me to continue to learn how to cook on a fixed income with limited skills.

While Amy's book is not a cookbook, it contains several recipes where she illustrates how to reduce your food budget and still make nutritious meals. With Amy, I did not always have to have PB&J and potato chips for dinner or McD's sausage burrito for breakfast and lunch. Some of my favorite Tightwad Gazette recipes are "The Universal Casserole", "Apple Crisp" and "Cuban Bread."

Jack inspires me to try new recipes. While I don't always succeed, today, I cooked my first beet. Beets fascinate me. The only beets I have ever had are pickled beets in a jar. A real beet looks odd to me, while it has a beautiful shape, it is the color of dirt and it's hard for me to imagine how to cook it so someday it could become a pickled beet.

(1 dragonfruit, 1 chayote, 2 patty pan squash, 1 zucchini, 1 camote, and 1 beet)
The beet is at the bottom of the picture. I went to a local market and picked up a few vegetables and a dragonfruit. I continue to try and increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables I eat, so I have to learn to prepare them.

I used Jack's recipe "Jacket Beetato"
(https://cookingonabootstrap.com/2018/02/13/jacket-beetroot-recipe/) as inspiration to try and cook a beet. In essence, I cooked the beet like a potato.

Cooked Beet

I just washed the beet bulb and pierced it with a fork in a few places. Put it on a plate and microwaved it on high for 5 minutes.

I cut and quartered the cooked beet and peeled off the skin. I ate a few bites plain. It was good with that beet sweetness.

While the beet was cooked, not sure it is totally mashable. Do not know if I microwaved for 1-2 minutes more it would have been easily mashable.

I saved the remaining beet chunks. I do not know what I will do with them later. At the moment, I don't have much to top cooked beet with that seems suitable but I will bet cold beet chunks will taste good, too.