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

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

More Puttering Bliss

I fixed my first zipper.

Zippers are an interesting invention. But, if they break, they can be a bear to fix.

When the zipper "broke" on one of my backpacks, I put it in the sewing pile. 

I am always optimistic that I can fix things. Eventually, a lot of my "to be fixed" items go in the trash because I can't sew or repair much of anything.

Well, during the COVID19 Shelter-in-place, I had much more time on my hands. So, I decided to try and tackle fixing the zipper.

The top of the zipper had torn away from the base and the little zipper handle came off. The zipper teeth had fallen open.

So, using tweezers, I pushed and pulled the two ends of the zipper back into the handle into their respective slots. Then, when I pulled the handle down, the zipper teeth closed up.

I stitched the zipper base and the top of the zipper teeth tightly together so the zipper teeth would not separate, again.

I saved the knapsack!

Also, while I haven't learned how to make deodorant, yet, I did find a way to stretch a container of deodorant.

I buy men's deodorant because they come in larger quantities for about the same price as women's deodorant. You can find men's deodorant in pleasant scents.

But, I think deodorant containers are wasteful. They don't contain much deodorant and come in hard plastic containers that end up in the trash.

When I reached the end of a deodorant container, I decided I needed to figure out a way to extend the life of the deodorant, if I could.

So, I took the container and ran water over the top while I rotated the ball applicator. 

Then, I shook the container to slosh the water around, hoping to salvage some remaining deodorant.

It worked! I think I have almost as much deodorant as when it was new.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A Visit to Seye, Yucatán, México

A Visit to Seyé
Yucatán, México

I got a chance to visit Seyé, a Mayan pueblo, in Yucatán, México near Mérida.

During my visit, my host, Lucy, showed a friend and me a working henequén farm and factory, and a Tortilla Shop that made fresh tortillas.

A quick history of henequên in the Yucatán focuses on the large Spanish Haciendas or henequén plantations where workers farmed the agave plants, harvested and transported them to a factory where the plant fibers were made into different types of rope.

Until the invention of synthetic rope fiber, the Yucatán was once one of the few sources for rope.

The wealth from henequén products can be seen in the remaining haciendas in outlaying areas and the mansions in the city of Mérida, particularly on Paseo de Montejo.

Some have been renovated and are used as hotels, homes, or businesses.

So, it was a real joy to visit a working factory.

The huge pieces of equipment reminded me of Margaret Burke-White’s photography and some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s industrial designs.

The story of henequén in the Yucatán is a large part of it's history.

A few references:

Henequen industry in Yucatán

All in the Family: Railroads and Henequén Monoculure in Porfirian Yucatán

Later in town, we visited a Tortilla Shop and the owner, Thelma Rodriquez, was kind enough to let me take pictures of how they made tortillas from a corn flour mix.

Thelma says the tortillas are multi-grain.

Friday, April 24, 2020

A Puttering Passion

I use a lot of yogurt.

Here in Mérida, yogurt comes in a variety of sizes from small snack cups, to the popular 8.5 oz drink size, and to larger container sizes.

(Popular brands in Mérida: Yoplait, Danone)

I had a persistent problem. Often, I do not use all the yogurt in the 8.5 oz bottle and want to restore it in the frig. The little aluminum cover often tears, so it doesn't not work as a lid.

I have been looking for lid alternatives for years.

 I found one, today.

I use a cough syrup that comes with a cap you use as a measuring cup for the syrup. It fits perfectly as a yogurt lid.

 Hurray, for Puttering Passion!

While I save lots of plastic containers, I am not advocating for a lid for this yogurt. If you ever watched the film, Albatross, it really makes one want to eliminate all plastics.

Uh Oh, just one search for yogurt brands in Mexico and down the rabbit hole I go.

It makes me think of Yogurt Wars, whose brand makes it to the store shelves?

Found a recipe for making Yogurt that I can try.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Lentils, Mixed Vegetables and Black Bean Salsa

I am always on the lookout for a lentil recipe that works for me.

This one turned out pretty good. It's probably not as crunchy as the original recipe because I used mostly canned goods.

Lentils, Mixed Vegetables and Black Bean Salsa
(Adapted from: https://www.lentils.org/recipe/lentil-corn-black-bean-salsa/)

First, I made a batch of lentils using my recipe: Stovetop: Lentils with Garlic Powder (https://riastoneblog.blogspot.com/2019/06/stove-top-lentils-with-garlic-powder.html).

Then, with each of the items below, drain, rinse, drain again in a sieve. Then dump into a large food container with a lid.

Note: the ounces measurements are approximate.

I used: Metric-Conversions.org (https://www.metric-conversions.org/weight/grams-to-ounces.htm).

1 560g (20oz) Can Black Beans
1 400g (14oz) Can Mixed vegetables
1 210g (8oz) Can of salsa

Next, add to the ingredients:

1 Juice from a slice of lime
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 Cup cooked lentils, drained in a sieve
Stir the ingredients to mix thoroughly.

Cover container.
Place in frig.
Chill for a couple of hours.

This is a hearty, meaty tasting salsa.


Microwave: Mug O'Apple Bread Pudding

During the COVID19 quarantine, I am rummaging around in closets, drawers, cupboards, and the frig.

I had a tablespoon of canned apple pie filling in the frig that had been sitting around for quite awhile.

I usually have a heel of bread somewhere in the frig.
So, I decided to make a Mug O’Apple Pudding based on a prior Mug O'Bread pudding recipe.
All I did different this time was stir the mixture well before microwaving.

Microwave: Mug O'Apple Bread Pudding Recipe
(Adapted from: https://riastoneblog.blogspot.com/2016/12/mug-obread-pudding.html)


1 8oz coffee cup
1 TB Canned apple pie filling
1 Slice of bread, torn into pieces
1 egg
1 1-2 TB sugar
2 TB milk or yogurt (I used lactose-free dry milk mix)
1 TB vegetable oil (or margarine)
1 tsp vanilla
2 Dashes of cinnamon


Add apple filling to bottom of cup
Break bread into pieces, place in cup.
In separate bowl, mix rest of ingredients
Pour mixture over bread.
Push bread down into cup so all pieces are soaked in mixture.
Stir and mix bread, fruit and egg mixture together.

Microwave 2 minutes on high.
Remove, let it cool for a bit before eating.

It tastes like apple crumb cake!
Variations: use other types of fruit or no fruit.

Converting Jack's Peach and Chickpea Curry into a Toast Topping

As you can see, if you preview my blog posts, I follow Jack Monroe https://cookingonabootstrap.com/.

I have also bought most of her books. Like Amy Dacyczyn, author of the Tightwad Gazette, Jack encourages people on a limited budget with limited cooking skills that they, too, can make great frugal meals.

Here is Jack's original Peach and Chickpea Curry:

While this post is not an actual recipe, you can go to Jack's website and try her recipe.

I was skeptical about trying to make this recipe for several reasons. Because I need to adapt recipes to make them GERD-friendly and according to available supplies, I wondered if I could actually achieve a curry.

Suffice it to say, adapting the recipe to make it GERD-friendly meant No onions, No garlic and No tomatoes. I tried to use a bit of onion and garlic powders. I tried to give it the tomato flavor by adding a few crumbles of tomato bouillon. If I use too much of any of these spices, my stomach rebels.

Well, it did not turn out the way I thought. So, I now I had a lot of peaches/chickpea mix left.

What could I do with this? First, I thought, I’d try to make the curry again by recooking a batch with additional spices. No, that won’t work, it would be too spicy.

Ok, let me sleep on it.

Then, I thought let’s see if it works as a toast topping. So, in the morning, I spread some cream cheese on a slice of toast and topped it with a 1 1/2 tablespoons of the peaches/chickpeas mix. It worked! It’s great. Hurray, another save!


Sunday, April 19, 2020

A Frugal Cup of Coffee

I have some ground coffee. I have a French Press but I only wanted to make one cup of coffee.

The ground coffee I have has a weak flavor, so what I did was use a tea-spoon (meant for loose tea) and grabbed a tea-spoon full of ground coffee, placed it in a cup and added boiling water.

Then, I stirred it and pulled the spoon out to let it drip and then stirred it some more etc.

Then, I added 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee, stirred and got a good cup of coffee. Used the same grounds twice for another cup.


No Bake: Small Yogurt & Whipped Topping Pie

My recipes have devolved into small or single portion servings and minimalist ingredients.

While I don't have a sweet tooth, I do crave something sweet now and then. I made a version of this recipe, previously, but this one is simpler and more basic.

No Bake: Small Yogurt & Whipped Topping Pie
(Adapted from: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/12225/strawberry-yogurt-pie-i/)



6oz Yogurt, flavored
6 Tbspns Whipped Topping
6-8 Cookies, crushed, use more if needed

Garnishes: Cookie crumbs and cinnamon


Put cookies in a plastic bag.
Smash cookies into crumbs with something hard like a can or a cutting board.

Conserve some cookie crumbs for garnish.

Layer the bottom of a small pie dish with the crushed cookie crumbs.
Use a spoon to level the cookie crumbs in the dish out to the edges.

In a small bowl, add yogurt and topping.
Stir and mix well until smooth.

Pour yogurt mixture over cookie crumbs in pie dish.
Use spoon to smooth mixture out to the edges.
Place in freezer for several hours to set.

When serving, garnish with additional cookie crumbs and cinnamon.

For a variation, see other blog post:

No Bake: Fruit & Yogurt Dessert

#GERD-friendly - this is GERD-friendly for some but not all. Because I use lactose-free milk and dry milk, the use of other dairy products sparingly does not cause a problem. Be cautious.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Hotplate: COVID19 Chicken Broth with Additions

Breakfast today was a catch-all, Kitchen Sink Mug O'Something.

Lunch was a mug of COVID19 Chicken Broth with additions accompanied with several saltine crackers.

COVID19 Chicken Broth with Additions


6 Cups water
1 Chicken Bouillon cube
1 Dollop vegetable oil
A sprinkle of onion powder
A sprinkle of garlic powder
Ground black powder
1-2 drops hot sauce
Additions: Use what you have.
Saltine crackers 


In 1 cup of water, add bouillon cube and microwave on high for two minutes.
Remove, stir to dissolve bouillon.
In a pot, add oil.
Add onion and garlic powders.
Add ground black pepper and hot sauce to taste (Optional).
Turn heat to high.
Stir the ingredients quickly.
Add bouillon water.
Add 5 more cups of water.
Let this mixture heat up then remove from hotplate.

I added 6 ladlefuls of the broth to a large mug.
Then I add a ladleful of Rice, Chicken and Vegetable Stew to the broth.
Then, I stirred the mixture.
I microwaved the mixture for 2 minutes on high.

Be careful this broth will be hot!

Have some saltine crackers with the broth.

While I had a healthy frugal Breakfast and Lunch, the cafe next door has begun to offer door-to-door service. So, today, I got a Cafe-Carmelo Frappachino.

Microwave: Mug O'Something - Kitchen Sink Variety

I have been a small meal eater for over 20 years.

It began when my family went to a restaurant and when my meal came, I was shocked. The plate was piled high with food. There was no way I could eat all that food, so I asked for a doggie bag, immediately. Then, I divided the meal in half and saved the rest. I have been doing that ever since.

I consider a burrito a meal. Previously, at home, when I cooked casseroles or one-pot dishes, I divided them into single serving containers and froze them for work lunches or dinner.

But, it was when I started making and collecting recipes for my next cookbook, I began to focus on what I called:

Small meals
Spoonful snacks
Savor the flavor bits, and


When I make a meal, I think, what does it provide from the concepts of MyPlate:

1 serving vegetables
1 serving fruit
1 serving protein

1 serving grains
1 serving fiber

I am also using the term "serving" liberally. I consider a spoonful of protein or fiber a serving.

Toast toppings and mug recipes probably triggered several of these ideas.

With a toast topping or mug recipe you could add one bit of something healthy mixed in with the rest of the ingredients.

For example, today, I wanted to make a toast topping with one egg.

In these COVID19 Crisis times, using one egg in one recipe seems extravagant. I am now pondering how to use one egg in a recipe that makes more than 1 serving. Frittatas come to mind.

After perusing my frig, what did I have to make a healthy toast topping?

I had some chorizo left. When I buy chorizo, I slice it into wafers and freeze them. Then, when I want to add some chorizo to a recipe, I take one wafer, crumble it into a mug and microwave it for 45 seconds to cook it. I do this because chorizo is a meat and I want to make sure it is cooked.

I realize that my definition of "healthy" is pretty broad.  In essence, it's not a bag of potato chips for dinner, or 10 chocolate-filled cookies, or cupcakes. I generally, eat chicken and fish, and some pork. To me, cooking beef is too much effort and the taste is nothing to get excited about.

Then, I added the egg and a dollop of milk.

But, I wanted some vegetables, too. Attempting to stretch my vegetable supplies, I used two spoonfuls of my Rice, Chicken and Vegetable Stew. I added a few drops of hot sauce and a few grinds of ground black pepper.

Then, I stirred and whipped the ingredients thoroughly. Then, microwaved the lot for 1:30 seconds on high (high is the only setting, I have).

Meanwhile the toast was ready. I was out of mayo, what should I use to coat the toast? What did I have? I had Italian dressing, ketchup, mustard, thousand island dressing, and vegetable oil. I choose the oil.

I added a dab of oil onto the toast and smeared it around.

When the egg mixture was ready, I stacked it on top of the toast and then mashed it down and sprinkled a bit more ground black pepper on top.

The results were tasty.

Now, did I get the daily recommended amount of vitamins, minerals, grains, and protein, etc? No, but I did get a micro-amount of many of these items.

You'd think I'd be slim because of all these small meal tactics, but I am overweight. I think it's because I like late-night snacks, even though they are small. Plus, when I used to gather with family and friends, eating and talking were usually the main events.

Microwave: Mug O’Something - Kitchen Sink Variety


1 Slice of Chorizo, crumbled
1 Egg
1 Dollop of milk
Ground black pepper to taste (Optional)
1-2 Drops of hot sauce
1-2 Tspns of Rice, Chicken and Vegetable Stew or find something in your frig to add
1 Slice of bread
A Dab of oil


Make a slice of toast and set aside.
After crumbling the chorizo into the mug, microwave on high for 45 seconds.
Add egg.
Add dollop of milk (I used powdered milk mix).
Add some ground black pepper to taste.
Add drops of hot sauce.
Add Rice, Chicken and Vegetable Stew or your addition of choice.
Stir and whip ingredients thoroughly.
Cover mug (I use a saucer).
Microwave on high for 1:30.
Add a dab of oil to toast top.
Dump egg mixture on top of toast.
Smash it down and spread over toast.


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Friday, April 10, 2020

Hotplate: Rice, Chicken and Vegetable Stew

I love the works of Dick Francis, a famous British Steeple Chase Jockey. I have lived in the worlds of horse racing that he created in my mind for years.

So, of course, when I found these recipes in an article about Jockey's diets (http://www.greatbritishracing.com/latest/the-jockey-diet/), I had to give them a try.

The idea for this recipe came from: Hayley Turner’s Chicken and Vegetable Risotto.

I have tried to make risotto several times without success, meaning the rice never got very soft. But, this turned out to be a tasty, filling dish.

Rice, Chicken and Vegetable Stew


2 Cups water
1 Cube chicken bouillon
1-2 TBspns vegetable oil
1 Tspn onion powder
1 Tspn garlic powder
Ground black pepper
1 dash of hot sauce
1 cup rice
1 Can chicken, drained
2-3 TBspns frozen mixed vegetables
2 TBspns frozen red bell peppers, sliced
1 Can 8oz mushroom slices, drained and rinsed


In a 2-cup measuring cup, add water and bouillon cube.
Microwave on high for 3 minutes.
Remove, stir to dissolve bouillon.
Add oil to large pot.
Add onion and garlic powders.
Heat on medium.
Add ground black pepper and hot sauce.
Add rice.
Heat on medium for about five minutes.
Stir frequently.
Add 1/3 of chicken stock.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer.
Cook until the liquid has been absorbed.
Add remaining stock.
Simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Add vegetables to a large bowl.
Add black ground pepper.
Stir to mix.
Microwave vegetables on high for 3-4 minutes.
Add chicken to rice.
Stir to mix and break up chunks.
Allow mixture to heat thoroughly.
Add vegetables.
Stir and mix.
Let mixture heat thoroughly.

The recipe made a lot of stew. So, I froze half of it in single serving containers. I also added some of the stew to the Quick Tomato and Vegetable Broth to make a hearty soup.


Hotplate: Quick Tomato and Vegetable Broth

This is a "Kitchen sink recipe", meaning toss in whatever vegetables you can find in the frig.

Quick Tomato and Vegetable Broth


4 cups water in a pot
1 cube tomato bouillon
1 dollop canola oil
5 dashes garlic powder
5 dashes onion powder
1 Tspn thyme, crushed
2 dashes oregano powder
2 dashes hot sauce
2 grinds ground black pepper
6oz leftover tomato-pasta liquid
6 snack carrots, diced
6 stalks celery, diced
1 1/2 cup cooked small white beans
3 TBspns canned mushroom pieces, drained


Add bouillon cube to pan of water.
Add oil.
Add spices.
Bring to a boil.
Add diced vegetables and beans.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium, to a simmer.
Add mushrooms.
Simmer for 15 minutes.

Hotplate: Scallop Squash Slices and Cheese

I've made this before but I did it wrong.

This time the dish was much better.

Scallop Squash Slices and Cheese


1 Scallop Squash, washed
1 Pot about 1/4 full of water
1 dash of hot sauce
Ground black pepper
Mozzarella cheese (or other cheese)


Cut the squash in half. remove seeds, if desired.
Cut each half into thin slices.
Place slices in pot of water.
Add a dash of hot sauce.
Bring to a boil.
Simmer about 15 minutes until squash is soft.
Drain squash.
Place squash into a microwave dish.
Sprinkle mozarella cheese or chunks over squash, be generous.
Sprinkle mixture with ground black pepper (Optional).
Microwave on high for about 30 seconds to melt cheese.

This was so good, I ate the whole thing.

I need to make this recipe more often. It is delicious and healthy.