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

Friday, May 31, 2019

Microwave: Mug O'Hot Oats with Spinach

Microwave: A Mug O’ Hot Oats with Spinach
(Adapted from: Worts Recipe by Jack Monroe from Cooking on a Bootstrap)

As you will see in subsequent posts, getting a Toaster / Convection Oven (TCO) has thrown me into a tizzy trying to find recipes for the TCO.

Anyway, in the midst of my research, I bought a Kindle version of Jack Monroe’s Cooking on a Bootstrap.

Jack has found the secret to writing a good cookbook, include personal and historic stories of life and food with the various recipes.

Jack is clear about how she creates her recipes and where she finds her sources of information and inspiration. So, when I found her Worts recipe, a 200+ year old recipe, they found in British Library, I was intrigued on many levels.

The recipe features oats.

Anyway, as I read the recipe, I thought this might make a good Mug recipe. So, I thought, I’ll cut the recipe in half and make a mug meal.

While I had used an online Metric Converter to translate the grams and milliliters into ounces, when I went to the kitchen, I forgot to halve the recipe, but after some messy maneuvers, I made a mug of hot oats with spinach and spices and it’s pretty good.

I have so few oat recipes, I am happy to add one more to my repertoire.

Because I follow a GERD-friendly diet, I use onion powder instead of onions, for me this works with no acid reflux issues.

Also, hot sauce in a recipe seems ok, but if it’s in a sauce used to top food, that’s hard on my stomach.

But, too much of a good thing may set it off, so I try to use onion powder, hot sauce and ground black pepper and other GERD-Unfriendly ingredients sparingly.

Bouillon, Bullion, Billion… one letter can make a difference. I’d love to have a Billion Bullions but you can’t cook with them like you can with Bouillon.


Olive oil
1/2 TBspn onion powder
3.5 oz dry oats
1 bouillon cube
13.5 oz of water
3.5 oz or a dessert bowl full - frozen spinach
1 Tsp lime juice
3-5 dashes of hot sauce (To make this #GERD-friendly, do not use hot sauce)
S/P to taste


Put oil in a 16 oz coffee mug.
Add onion powder.
Microwave 30 seconds on high.

Put water into a microwavable measuring cup.
Add bouillon cube.
Microwave 2 minutes on high to dissolve cube.

Put spinach into a microwavable dish.

Microwave spinach 2 minutes on high to soften.

Add oats to coffee mug.
Add bouillon water.

Stir well.
Add spinach.
Mix and stir well.
Place a saucer under the coffee mug to catch spillover.
Bring to a boil.

Here’s the problem. Because I did not halve the recipe, the mixture overwhelmed the 16 oz mug. I had to remove half the contents and put it into another bowl while I microwaved the rest for 3-5 minutes on high.

Then, I added the bowl of mix back into the mug and microwaved for about 2 minutes. There was some spill over.

By this time, the mixture had thickened.

If necessary, continue microwaving the mixture for a 1 minute or 2 more to thicken.

When done, I added lime juice, hot sauce and some ground black pepper and stirred the mixture thoroughly.

I like it. In the future, if I halve the recipe, I think it will be fairly easy to make.

6 / 1/ 19 Update:

I made another Mug O'Hot Oats and Spinach.

This time I halved the recipe, used chicken bouillon (the previous recipe used tomato bouillon), and less hot sauce. It turned out great. Both recipes are good but I like this one, today.

I can see I am going to make this recipe alot.


Toaster Oven: My First Baked Hard Boiled Egg Toast Topping

A landmark achievement!

I made my First Baked Hard Boiled Egg Toast Topping.

There were many reasons why I bought a Toaster / Convection Oven (TCO), one was because my hotplate can not boil water, so I couldn't make hard-boiled eggs, a favorite menu item.

When I read that one could make hard-boiled eggs in a toaster oven, I got excited.

The purchase of the TCO was a bit much for me. Plus, it has thrown my whole cooking, shopping routine into a tizzy.

So, inch by inch, recipe by recipe, test by test, I will expand my menu choices.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Cooking on a Bootstrap: Over 100 Simple, Budget Recipes by Jack Monroe

I was trying to buy Jack Monroe's new book, Tin Can Cook.

Whew, but nothing is simple anymore.

Without going into detail, using my devices has become a nightmare. I can not do one thing without a problem or interruption. And I do wish other recipes sites would stop throwing stuff at their visitors, like popup boxes and multiple moving videos, it makes the site look unprofessional and I run like hell from those sites.

Anyway, while I have a copy of Jack's book, A Girl Called Jack, I had it delivered to another address, so I have not seen it yet.

When I went to try and buy the Tin Can Cook, Kindle version, Amazon would not let me buy it, probably because I am not in the States at this time.

They let me buy the Kindle version of Cooking on a Bootstrap: Over 100 Simple Budget Recipes.

And I am enjoying the heck out of it.

I love how Jack adds her personal experiences into her recipes, like not having the time for breakfast as she rushes out the door with a banana blackening in the bottom of her handbag.

While I have skimmed the book, my cooking life is in a twirl. I have spent a whole week looking for recipes I can cook, including some in Jack's book and most of the time I am missing a crucial ingredient, like say, yeast.

What do I eat while I am trying to figure out what to cook?

Well, I have eaten several dead bagels for two days, hard-boiled egg scrambled egg accidents, local rotisserie chicken with rice, carrots with peanut butter, with salad dressing, celery with peanut butter, Beans on Toast, successful blueberry pie filling tarts, and Baked Salmon Balls with DIY tartar sauce. There's always cereal.

My struggles with cooking and food are complex. I am poor but where I live, I can stretch a dollar. But, I don't have a car, so that limits my food choice options, but on the other hand, I do have many options, but I am trying to cook American or British or Indian recipes in a place where most of the ingredients available are for Spanish recipes.

Go to a nearby mom and pop convenience store and you won't find Sunflower oil. I was fortunate to go to a government grocery store and find Canola oil.

I am not complaining, really. I eat well. But, I still can't cook. So, I depend on Cook/Authors like Jack to guide me through the jungle of terms, processes, utensils, ingredients, substitutes and more to inspire me to keep trying to make healthy food within my budget.

The funny thing is as I listen to Bollywood's top song hits while I search for recipes etc., and read Jack's book, my eyes roll back in my head because I have to convert grams, liters, milliliters etc., and sometimes there are terms I just don't know like sultanas (I am assuming they are raisins) but that is why I spend so much time on the internet trying to figure things out. Anyway, my brain is being "stretched" as it seems I am trying to live in four worlds at the same time.

Which is also why I laughed when I read that Jack has gone to the library to research ancient recipes and found a recipe for "Worts" which she altered and improved. Going to the library is always a good idea.

Also, I love Jack's stories about her thrift store finds like her 20p Royal Doulton glass. 

I feel like I passed Amy Dacyczyn's "Tightwad Gazette "Course" with a C+ and have moved onto Jack's Budget Kitchen Classes.

Anyway, I appreciate Jack's mission to help people eat well on "peanuts."

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

DIY Everything Bagel Seasoning Variation

It is common for me not to have everything a recipe calls for, so, I am learning to make substitutions. In the case of this recipe, it called for poppy seeds which I did not have, so I used Chia seeds. The Chia seeds added texture but not much flavor. 
This recipe makes enough seasoning for four bagels. 
DIY Everything Bagel Seasoning Variation

1 Tspn each of:
Chia Seeds
Crushed sesame seeds
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Rock salt with Macha (Macha is optional) 
Put ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake contents rigorously to mix.

Toaster Oven: Hard Boiled Eggs

Toaster Oven: Hard Boiled Eggs
(Adapted from: https://ashleydiy.blogspot.com/2012/05/toaster-oven-hard-boiled-eggs.html)

Wow! Hurray! A Success!
I did it, I made hard-boiled eggs in my toaster oven, thanks to Ashley.


Set Toaster / Convection Oven on Bake.
Set temperature to 325 deg.
Pre-heat Toaster / Convection Oven by setting timer to 5-7 minutes.
Need a Toaster Oven rack set in the middle of the oven.
Need oven mitts or pot holders.


3 eggs
Bowl with cold water (add ice)


Wash eggs.
Place eggs onto rack.

Bake 25 minutes.

Remove eggs and place into bowl with cold water with some ice cubes for 15 minutes.

When the bath was done, I took the eggs out and peeled one. It peeled without any problems!


When I started, my eggs were cold. I let them sit out while the oven pre-heated. They were still cold when I put them into the oven.

When the eggs were done cooking, one egg was spotted. It was hard to retrieve the hot eggs from the rack, I had to grab them one by one and drop them onto an oven mitt. Then, I dropped the eggs into the ice cold water.

Also, I forgot to change setting to Bake, it was set on Toast, but they still cooked.

I used one hard-boiled egg to make a toast topping using guacamole sauce as a base on one slice of toast. I added a few slivers of hard cheese.

Then, I sliced the egg and added slices to the top of the guacamole and cheese. Then, I topped this with imitation bacon bits, a few bits of cooked, diced, bell peppers and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Then, I cut the toast into quarters. Yum.

I am looking forward to more hard-boiled egg recipes!

Other Resources: 
Make Hard-Boiled Eggs in the Oven
Easy Hard-Boiled Eggs in Oven

Monday, May 27, 2019

DIY Tartar Sauce with Capers

DIY Tartar Sauce with Capers
(Adapted from: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/homemade_tartar_sauce/)


3 Heaping TBspns of Mayo
2 TBspns Pickle Relish, drained
1 Tspn capers, drained
1 Tspn yellow mustard
2 Tspns onion powder
1 capful lime juice
3 dashes of hot sauce
Ground black pepper to taste


Add ingredients to a container with a lid.
Stir thoroughly until sauce is smooth.
Cover container, place in refrigerator.

While I did not care for the taste of the Tartar Sauce, straight, it tasted well with Baked Salmon Balls, (see blog for recipe).


Toaster Oven: Baked Salmon Balls

Toaster Oven: Baked Salmon Balls
(Adapted from: https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/baked-salmon-balls-82375)

I made 12 Salmon Balls.


Pre-heat Toaster Oven to 350º
Lay a sheet of waxed paper on tin tray.


1 Can 140g (4.9oz) salmon, drained
1/4 Cup Bread crumbs
1 Tspn Onion powder
1/2 Tspns Garlic powder
1 Capful Lime juice
1 1/2 TBspn Mayo


Add salmon to a bowl.
Add bread crumbs, onion and garlic powders.
Stir dry ingredients.
Add lime juice and mayo.
Stir ingredients thoroughly.
Stir and mash ingredients.

If mixture is a bit dry, add more mayo.
With your clean fingers, pick up approximately a TBspn of the mixture.
Roll, mash, and roll the mixture between your palms to form a ball.
Place the balls onto the wax paper on the tray.
Bake at 350º for 20 minutes.

When done, move tray to a wire rack to cool.

Move Baked Salmon Balls to a plate.

Serve with DIY Tartar Sauce, (see recipe on blog).

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Toaster Oven: Fruit Tart

Toaster Oven: Fruit Tart
(Adapted from: DIY Newlyweds http://www.diynewlyweds.com/2010/10/healthy-quick-mini-apple-pie-recipe.html)


1 Wheat flour or Flour Tortilla
Blueberry pie filling or other fruit
Confectioner sugar (optional)



Preheat Toaster Oven 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Place waxed paper on tin tray.
Place tortilla on tray.


Drop 1-2 TBspns fruit in the middle of the tortilla.
Tri-Fold tortilla.
Sprinkle with confectioner sugar.
Bake in 10-15 minutes until tortilla is crisp.
Remove and slide tart with wax paper onto cooling rack.
Eat when warm not hot.


Variation: Use apple slices or other fruit.
Alternative fruit toppings: honey, cinnamon.


Friday, May 24, 2019

A New Toaster / Convection Oven

A New Toaster / Convection Oven

Ok, I went and bought an Oster Toaster / Convection Oven ($1,369.00 MX).

Whew, once I bought it, I had no idea what ingredients to buy for any recipe.

But, my pattern is I have to study many recipes before I decide what to make. Then, I have to determine if I have the necessary ingredients or if I have to go get them.

I am overwhelmed. But, I am looking forward to baking since I do not have an oven.

I am proud of the recipes I have made using just a hot plate, skillet, pot and microwave with one or two microwaveable dishes.

I have no idea whether this is a frugal purchase, meaning will it pay off over time? Will I save money making more recipes?

We shall see.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mug O'Hot Banana

I follow a few recipe websites, regularly.

Jack Monroe's Cooking on a Bootstrap is one of them.

When I saw Jack's Hot Banana Pot recipe, I laughed. What a simple and delightful recipe.

This recipe solved my problem of an excess of overripe bananas. I have several containers of overripe bananas in my freezer. I keep thinking I would use them in a mug cake or a frozen yogurt dessert but somehow that has not happened.

So, after seeing Jack's recipe, I grabbed one of the containers, put the frozen banana into a mug and popped it into the microwave. Then, I microwaved it on high for one minute.

When it was done, I sprinkled a little cinnamon on top and called it Mug O'Hot Banana.

So happy to have a delightful way to use my over-ripe bananas! Thanks, Jack.

Jack Monroe's Hot Banana Pot


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Writing Workshop: Basic Blog Design

Writing Workshop: Basic Blog Design

As part of my terra firma writing group, we are working on creating blogs.

I found I needed to create a Basic Blog Design presentation.

This presentation focuses on free Blog Host Templates. This is not a user manual.

Basic Blog Design PDF

Also, I am not a designer. To take your Blog to a higher level, consider contracting a Website / Blog designer.


The Book Designer - Blogging 101 - Blog Design

WikiHow - Design - Blogs

Crazy Egg - Persuasive Blog Design

Smashwords - How to Start a Blog Today (free eBook by Scott Chow)

Jane Friedman - Why Design Matters

Sardine Mash with Lime Juice and Onion Powder

Sardine Mash with Lime Juice and Onion Powder
(Adapted from https://www.alexfergus.com/blog/51-sardine-recipes-for-the-fussiest-of-fish-eaters)

8. Sardines, Onion Cubes & Lemon

Sardines, like any fish, go great with onion cubes and lemon. Use smoked, lightly grilled or canned sardines.
Because of Alex Fergus's passion for sardines, I am trying several of his recipes and adapting them to my circumstances.
Isabel's Sardinas were in a tomato sauce. They were tasty.

1 approximately 115g / 4 oz can of sardines including the oil or juices
1/2 Capful lime juice
10+ Shakes onion powder
10+ Grinds ground black pepper

Empty can of sardines into a container with a lid.
Add juice and seasonings.
Mash the sardines with a fork, mix and mash thoroughly.
Serve on crackers.
Can be #GERD-friendly is you use a brand of sardines in oil not tomato sauce.