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

Friday, January 29, 2021

Microwave: Spicy, Cheesy Popcorn

Microwave: Spicy, Cheesy Popcorn

Make popcorn*. Store in a container with a lid.
*See post DIY Microwave Popcorn Maker for more information.


4 TBspns Olive oil, spray if possible
1 Tspn Garlic powder
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tspn Onion flakes
1 Tspn Cumin
1 Tspn Paprika
2 Drops Hot sauce
Parmesan cheese
Cheese, shredded or grated

Note: if you want the mixture spicer, increase the amount of hot sauce, cumin, and paprika.


  • With popcorn in a container with a lid, spray popcorn with vegetable oil. (See DIY Oil Sprayer, below.)
  • Add garlic powder, ground black pepper, onion flakes, cumin, paprika, hot sauce, parmesan cheese, grated cheese and salt.
  • Cover container.
  • Shake container to spread the spices throughout the popcorn.

Note: I had to remove some of the popcorn to make it fit into the container.

DIY Oil Sprayer:
Use a bottle with a sprayer.
Add vegetable oil.
Alternative Process:
In a small, microwaveable, glass container, add oil, garlic and onion powders, cumin, paprika, hot sauce and salt.
Stir and mix ingredients together.
Microwave on high for about 10 seconds.
Remove container.
Stir and mix ingredients.
Spoon mixture over popcorn.
Sprinkle popcorn with parmesan and grated cheese.
Cover container.
Shake container to spread spices throughout popcorn.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

DIY MIcrowave Popcorn Maker

My previous microwave popcorn "maker", a casserole dish broke. So, I had been using a cracker cardboard box to make microwave popcorn but after many uses, it bit the dust.
So, I checked my cardboard box stash and found another box that might work as a DIY Microwave Popcorn Maker.
I got another thin piece of cardboard and cut a piece to put inside the box on the bottom.
To make popcorn with your DIY Microwave Popcorn Maker*:

  • In a cup, add about 1/4 cup of kernels.
  • Add water to cover the kernels.
  • Wait about 5 minutes to let the kernels soak up some water.
  • Drain the water off the kernels.
  • Add kernels to your DIY Microwave Popcorn Maker.
  • Close box lid.
  • Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes.
  • Wait until the popping begins to stop, where you hear only 1-3 pops. Be careful the box will be hot, the contents will be hot.
  • Add popcorn to a container with a lid.

Basically, you add prepped popcorn to the box and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes.
Most of the time, using the prepped kernels reduces the number of unpopped kernels.

See Microwave: Spicy, Cheesy Popcorn for a popcorn seasoning idea.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

DIY: Hasty Pickle Relish

I needed to use the remaining pickles from an aging batch of DIY Quick Pickles. I thought using them in a pickle relish would work.

When I searched for a pickle relish recipe, I was surprised. Most recipes were for sweet pickle relishes and the quantities were huge because the idea was to can the relish.

But, the relish I had in mind was different, was it a dill pickle relish? Search results were similar.

So, I read a few recipes. Most of the recipes included bell peppers, celery seed, mustard seed, dill seed, turmeric, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Plus, most recipes wanted the cucumbers and bell peppers ground up in a blender.

Well, this wasn't going to happen, so I was left to improvise.

Using a recent Cucumber Relish recipe as a guide, I added and deleted a few ingredients.

I choose not to add the vinegar, lots sugar or salt because I was using pickles. Plus, I did not have celery seed, mustard seed, or dill seed. I had Turmeric, but hesitated using it. Maybe another time.
DIY: Hasty Pickle Relish
(Inspired by: Cucumber Relish, Dining with the Duchess: Making Everyday Meals A Special Occasion by Sarah, The Duchess of York and Weight Watchers, p42)



8 DIY Quick Pickle Spears, sliced and diced
2 TBspns Bell pepper, sliced and diced
2-4 Grinds Black pepper
8 Shakes Onion flakes
1/2 Tspn Sugar


In a medium container with a lid, add the pickles and bell pepper.
Add black pepper, onion flakes, and sugar.
Stir thoroughly to mix ingredients.

I had to test this relish, so I added a few spoonfuls to half a ham and cheese tarta (sandwich). It turned out great!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

WW Cucumber Relish

WW Cucumber Relish
(Adapted from: Cucumber Relish, Dining with the Duchess: Making Everyday Meals A Special Occasion by Sarah, The Duchess of York and Weight Watchers, p42)
1/2 Cumber, peeled, deseeded, sliced and diced
2 TBspns Bell pepper, sliced and diced
4 Tspns can salsa, drained
6 Shakes Onion Flakes
1-2 Drops Hot sauce
1 Tspn Oregano powder
1/4 Cup Yogurt, plain
In a medium container with a cover, add cucumber
ber and bell pepper.
Add salsa, onion flakes, hot sauces, oregano and yogurt.
Stir thoroughly to mix ingredients.
Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Skillet: Chicken and Vegetable Hash (Toast Topping)

I had a bell pepper I had to use before it went bad. I did not want to do the usual dice it up and freeze it. So, I hunted down a few recipes where I could use fresh diced bell pepper.

This one is great for using vegetable and chicken leftovers.



Vegetable oil
1/2 Tspn Onion flakes
1/2 Tspn Garlic powder
1-3 Drops Hot sauce
2 Grinds Black pepper
1/4 Bell pepper, diced or 1/2 Cup Frozen mixed vegetable, drained, rinsed, cooked
1/4 Cup Canned Mushrooms, drained, rinsed, sliced
1/4 Cup Potato, cooked, diced (Optional)
1/4 Cup Chicken, cooked, diced

Optional sauce:
2 TBspns BBQ sauce
2 TBspns Milk
Add ingredients to a separate bowl. Mix well and set aside.


Add oil to skillet.
Add onion, garlic, hot sauce, black pepper.
Stir and mix.
Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add bell pepper and mushrooms.
Stir ingredients thoroughly.
Sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium.
Add potatoes. (Optional)
Add vegetables. (Optional)
Add chicken.
Mix ingredients.
Cook on medium-high until cooked and warmed throughout.
Stir frequently.
Optional sauce: add 1 TBspn of BBQ sauce into mixture or as a topping.

Variation: Serve as a Toast Topping.
Spread 1 Tspn mayo over toast.
Add some hash to top of toast.
Option: Top with 1 Tspn if BBQ sauce.

For me, the “heat” factor was high.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

2021: The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

The Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations Declare
2021 - The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

Brief Overview:
In general, the goals of program are outreach and assistance:
  • To increase awareness of the value of fruit and vegetables for better health outcomes.
  • To reduce lossage and waste in the production, harvest, storage, and transportation of fruit and vegetables.
  • To promote and improve sustainable food systems.
  • To focus on assistance and inclusion of small farmers.
  • To adapt and improve technology and approaches to combat food waste.

Essentially, we are not eating enough vegetables. The World Health Organization recommends 400g of fruit and vegetables a day. It's hard to believe that for some it's hard to find and eat enough fruits and vegetables equal to a can of corn or mixed vegetables.
Lack of fruits and vegetables in our diet can lead to increases in gastro-intestinal cancers, ischemic heart disease or stroke according to the FAO publication, Fruit and Vegetables - Your Dietary Essentials.
Barriers to increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables include: availability, affordability, lack of knowledge and competition from processed food products.
The FAO wants its member nations to focus on:
  • ways to increase production and consumption of fruits and vegetables to diversify our diet.
  • methods to decrease perishability and waste in the food chain.
  • education and promotional options to increase awareness of the value of a diversified diet.

References and Resources:
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
A Healthy Diet Sustainably Produced
Pocket Guide for a Healthy Diet
Here’s What It Looks Like to Get 8 Servings of Vegetables in a Day
My Plate

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Refrigerator: Mango Breakfast Bircher

It was the title of Jack Monroe's recipe, Mandrin Breakfast Bircher, that grabbed my attention. What’s a bircher?

Then, I looked at the ingredients and processes and asked myself, "Do I have the ingredients? Can I make it?"

I had everything but the mandarin oranges but I am on a mango kick, at the moment, so using canned mango slices seemed an ideal substitution!


Yogurt, plain
Milk (dry milk mix or other)
Fresh or canned mango, drained, sliced
Honey (Optional)
Nuts, crushed (Optional)
Note: Use any fruit you desire.
In a small bowl with a cover, add a thick layer of oats.
Pour in 2 oz or more yogurt.
Pour in 2 oz or more milk.
Liquids should cover oats and a bit more. Oats will soak up the liquids overnight.
Stir ingredients thoroughly.
Cover bowl and store in refrigerator overnight.
When are ready to eat, if oats are too dry, add more milk.
Top with fruit slices.
Optional: Add honey or nuts, if desired.

Jack makes several oats recipes that are similar like: porridge, overnight oats, and bircher.

Funny thing, I never liked hot "porridge" but I do like Jack's cold oats recipes.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

DIY: Spice Drawer

During my marathon weeks of researching and making DIY projects based on YouTube, I am thrilled with many of my completed projects.
In particular, I am happy with my new spice drawer.
You can find the idea for the spice drawer in this Mega video : https://youtu.be/wTbyIaGvntw.
Basically, gather some sturdy waste cardboard longer than the height of a large spice bottle, long enough to fold and wide enough to fit the drawer. Measure the width of the drawer you wish to convert to a spice drawer. Cut the cardboard to fit. Fold top of the cardboard twice to create a "lift/slant" to give height to the rack. Do the same with additional pieces of waste cardboard for the number of racks you want for the drawer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Stovetop: Mixed Vegetables with Spices

Mixed Vegetables with Spices
(Adapted from: Coliflor con especias BollyFood by Marie-Laure Tombini p12)

I love India, Bollywood and Bollywood movies. So when I found this little cookbook, BollyFood, I was overjoyed. But, as with most recipes, I never have all the right ingredients. So, I tried my Use What You Have method. Also, I reduced the quantity from 4 persons to one.


Microwave a cup of frozen mixed vegetables on high for 2 minutes.


1 Cup Frozen mixed vegetables, cooked
1-2 Dollops Vegetable oil
1/2 Tspn Onion flakes
1/2 Tspn Yellow Mustard
1/2 Tspn Curry powder
1/2 Tspn Ginger powder
1 Tspn Cilantro, dry
1/2 Tspn Cardamon
2 Dashes of Paprika
2-3 Tspns Canned salsa


In a skillet, add oil and the spices.
Stir well.
Simmer and mix well.
Add Salsa.
Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Stir often.
Add mixed vegetables (cooked).
Stir and mix vegetables with spice mixture.
Simmer for a few minutes to heat contents throughout.
Spoon skillet contents into a serving dish.

Note: this was a spicy dish, so it is not GERD-friendly.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

11+ Ways to Make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Recipe research is always surprising. In my recipe wanderings, I came across multiple ways to make a grilled cheese sandwich.
The Grilled Cheese Sandwich became popular during the depression. It makes me wonder what foods will become popular during this pandemic with all of its ramifications.

11+ Ways to Make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Basic process:
  • Spread butter or mayo on the outside of two slices of bread. Place one slice butter side down in a skillet.
  • Use a spread on the inside of the slice of bread. (Optional)
  • Top with slice, slices, slivers, or chunks of chosen cheese.
  • Add herbs, spices, or other items as desired.
  • Place second slice of bread on top, butter side up.
  • Fry sandwich slowly so cheese has time to melt.
  • Once bottom side is brown, flip and toast the other side.
  • Remove and place on plate.
  • Cut in half or quarters.
  1. Choose from a variety of breads like multi-grain, sourdough, rye, sliced baguettes, or other breads.
  2. Choose from a variety of cheeses like: Blue Cheese, Brie, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Parmesan, or other cheeses, or use a mix of several cheeses.
  3. Use Garlic-Parsley butter.
  4. Use Mayo instead of butter.
  5. Add Pesto or another spread.
  6. Add Apple Slices.
  7. Add Spinach, fresh or cooked.
  8. Add Fresh herbs.
  9. Add Carmelized onions.
  10. Use one slice of bread, make as a  toast topping, top with fruit or other items.
  11. Reduce calories by using less cheese and adding cut vegetables, fresh, frozen (cooked) or canned (drained and rinsed).
Some suggested additions, choose 1 or more: pickle slices, potato chips, cooked bacon strips, tomato slices, or slices of lunchmeat.
Other Suggested spreads: mayo mixed with mustard, or mayo mixed with BBQ sauce.

Suggested spices: ground black pepper, basil, cilantro, capers, hot pepper sauce, for example.


Monday, January 18, 2021

Refrigerator: Mug O'Blueberry Cheesecake

Finally, I found a great recipe to make a single serving of refrigerator cheesecake.
Refrigerator: Mug O’Blueberry Cheesecake
I keep dry blueberries in stock. But, if you have fresh blueberries, you can skip this step.
Soak 1-2 TBspns dry blueberries in water overnight.
Put blueberries in a cup, add enough water to soak them. Warm blueberries briefly in the microwave (20-30 seconds). Allow to sit at least 30 minutes.

2 Sugar Cookies
2-3 TBspns Cream cheese
1 TBspn Yogurt, plain
1/2 Tspn Lime zest
3 Tspns Lime  juice
6-8 TBspns Blueberries, dry, soaked and drained or fresh

  • In a cup, stir cream cheese, yogurt, one Tspn lime juice and zest together. Reserve.
  • Place one cookie in bottom of mug or cup.
  • Pour one Tspn lime juice over it.
  • Spoon 1/3 cream cheese mixture over the top.
  • Place second cookie on top.
  • Pour the remaining lemon juice over cookie.
  • Spoon remaining cream cheese mixture over the top and smooth out the surface.
  • Place the blackberries (drained) over the top of the dessert.
  • Refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

MIcrowave: Mug O'Banana Crumble

Make a crumble from almost any fruit.
Microwave: Banana Crumble


1/2 - 1 Banana, sliced

1-2 TBspns Sugar
1-2 TBspns Flour
1-2 TBspns Oats
1-2 TBspns Vegetable oil
1-2 Dashes Cinnamon

Place banana pieces in a small microwaveable bowl or cup.
In a separate bowl, add remaining ingredients.
Stir ingredients to mix well.
Spoon topping over banana slices.
Microwave on high for 1-1/2 minute.

Optional Sauce:
Mix 1 TBspn each, yogurt and honey together.
Spoon sauce over cooked banana mixture.

Variation: Top cooked banana mixture with additional slices of banana and a dash of cinnamon.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Microwave: Mug O'Mexican Bread Pudding

Mug O’Mexican Bread Pudding


1 8oz Coffee mug
1 TBspn Olive oil (or margarine)
2-3 TBspns Raisins
1/4 Apple, diced
1 Slice Multi-grain bread, torn into pieces
1 Egg
1 - 1 1/2 TB Sugar
2 Dollops Milk (or yogurt) or more if needed
1 Capful Vanilla flavoring
1 TBspn Almonds, silvers or crushed
2 Dashes Cinnamon
2 Dashes Nutmeg
Topping: Mixed cheese or other cheese, grated
Optional: 1 Slice of toast with mayo.

Add oil to mug.
Swirl oil in mug to coat bottom and sides of mug.
Add the rest of ingredients except cheese.
Stir and mix ingredients thoroughly.
Add more milk if contents are not moist.
Top with grated cheese.
Place mug in microwave. Use a saucer as a cover.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Check to see if all liquids have been cooked off. If not, microwave on high for 30-60 seconds.

Tip mug contents onto a plate or onto a slice of toast (with or without mayo) on a plate and spread over toast.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Happy Birthday (91) - Guy Williams (b. 1/14/1924)

A Tribute to Guy Williams - Zorro
b 1/14/1924 d 4/30/1989 -- Updated 1/2/2021

Zorro, the perennial masked hero, has been portrayed in film, on TV and on stage by many, such as: Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Robert Livingston, John Carroll, Reed Hadley, Tyrone Power, Guy Williams, Frank Langella, Alain Delon, George Hamilton, Henry Darrow, Antonio Banderas, Christian Meier, and others in a wide variety of adaptations of the stories of Zorro by Johnston McCulley.

But, unofficially, many Zorro fans consider Guy Williams, the greatest Zorro ever.

Guy Williams, an Italian-American, was born in New York on 1/14/1924 and died on 4/30/1989.

Guy Williams and Gene Sheldon as Zorro and Bernardo, his servant.

He gained fame acting in Walt Disney's TV production of Zorro which ran from 1957 to 1959. The series was cancelled at the height of its popularity due to Disney's conflict with the broadcasting company that aired the show.

Guy's fans have created many online fansites as well as campaigned for variety of historic markers including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to honor their favorite Zorro.

Below are just a few of the Guy Williams/Zorro fan sites.

Guy Williams' Family website

Guy Williams Web Shrine with links


Beth Wilson's Guy Williams on Bonanza

Bill Cotter's Disney Page

Disney's Zorro Page

Many of Guy Williams fans wonder what happened to him after Disney's TV show Zorro was cancelled.

To learn the answer to that question and much more about Guy Williams' life and career, read Antoinette G. Lane's fine biography, "Guy Williams: Man Behind the Mask" published by Bearmanor.
Update: "Guy Williams: The Man Behind the Mask" is now available as an audiobook.

I interviewed Ms. Lane and posted the interview "An interview with Antoinette G. Lane" in an earlier blog post and a shorter version was featured on Boomer Cafe.

According to Ms. Lane, Guy's early training in fencing and horseback riding as well as his early modeling career made him a perfect candidate to star in Disney's Zorro.

Personally, I have a fond affection for the entire Walt Disney production of his 1950s TV show Zorro.

I learned from Ms. Lane's biography that Disney brought movie-making production techniques and quality to television production. This can be seen in the choreographed sword fights, horseback riding and chase scenes.

Disney also used Mexicans and Native Americans as actors and extras. The stories were set in the early history of California when it was ruled by the Spanish, providing an authentic historical context for the story.

Today, we celebrate the life
of a wonderful man and actor, Guy Williams.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

My Favorite Free Online Cookbooks

Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook
Helping those who feel like an alien in the kitchen with
simple, basic, one pot, single serving, easy, healthy, recipes.
My recipes are:
  • Frugal, healthy, and simple.
  • Friendly for those who have difficulty trying to cook.
  • Focused on those who do not have a full kitchen complement of equipment, utensils, or supplies.
  • Helpful for those who do not have regular access to fresh fruits and vegetables or specific ingredients.
  • Geared towards small portions or single servings.

Being frugal in the kitchen means finding free or sales on kitchen utensils, cookbooks, and food items. Other money savers including: using inexpensive food items as substitutes for more expensive items, and making your own (DIY) dressings, sauces, salsas, pesto, and more.

My Favorite Free Online Cookbooks
Including PDFs, free eBooks, Websites, and Extension sources

NIH/NHLBI Delicious Heart Healthy Recipes

Keep the Beat Recipes
HHS Healthy Home Cooking African American Style
USDA White House Healthier US School Challenge Celebration -- October 17, 2011
The Great Little Cookbook
A Cookbook by Ted
Need to login at Smashwords
Project Gutenberg
Search "Cookbook" or “Cook Book” and you will get lots of choices like:
The Cookery Blue Book
Barilla Celebrity Cookbook
Cusinart Convection Oven Microwave Grill CookBook
Wikipedia Cookbook

Mount Vernon Recipes
Open Culture Cookbook Archive
AmeriFlax Cookbook
Yucatan Goverment / Servicos de Salud de Yucatan
Recetario Saludable

Washington State University

University of Ilinois

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Iowa State University

University of Nebraska

Virginia Tech

University of Maryland Extension

University of Florida IFAS Extension

BBC Food

Budget Bytes



Cocina Vital

Cooking on a Bootstrap / Jack Monroe



The Guardian - Recipes

The Incredible Egg

The Kitchn
My Latina Table
My Plate

My Recipes
The Spruce Eats

Wikipedia: Food

Wikipedia: Food, Cookbook, Recipes

Note: Many Food Manufactures have recipes on their websites, for example:
A Cookbook byTed
from Smashwords