Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How to stretch that chicken….

I grew up in a family that did what it could to make ends meet. My dad was the main cook and he’s the one that taught me how to cook. He was a master at stretching the food budget. We grew up on chicken, ground beef, and beans and rice as our staples. We also had a garden and a lot of our veggies came from that garden.

Here is one basic way to cook a chicken and make it stretch for several meals.

Cut up a whole chicken and put it in a large pot of boiling water. (If you don’t have a whole chicken, use pieces. If you want a lot of meat, use a lot of chicken.) Add 1 medium to large chopped onion, two to three cloves of garlic, three stalks of chopped celery, two carrots cut in ½ inch chunks, three to six peppercorns (to taste), salt to taste. You can add other spices if you like. Allow your chicken to cook over low heat till the chicken is done. Take your chicken out and allow it to cool. When it is cool enough to touch, de-bone it and pull it into bit sized pieces. Set the chicken aside and use it for what ever dish you want to use it for. You can freeze it in one to two cup portions for later use or you can use it for a meal that day.

At this time you will need to strain you broth. I usually keep some empty mayonnaise jars on hand for this purpose. I have a strainer that will fit right over the empty jar. I will pour the broth into the strainer, right into the jar. If you don’t have mayonnaise jars, just us whatever you have. Discard the contents in the strainer. When the jar is full, screw the lid on and wipe the jar clean. Put it into the refrigerator and let it cool. The fat will rise to the top and harden. Once this has taken place, you can scrape the fat off and discard it. I usually put the de-fatted broth into quart sized freezer bags and freeze it for later use. It can be used for soups, gravies, casseroles or any recipe, asking for broth. Another thing you can do with the broth is to freeze it in ice cube trays. Put the frozen cubes into a freezer bag for future use, this is great for adding a little extra flavor to a gravy.

Now that you have this wonder cooked chicken, what can you do with it?

1) My sister is a master a using the cooked chicken and its flavorful stock and making Chicken and Dumplings. She will de-bone her cooked chicken, set it aside and then make dumplings with canned refrigerator biscuits. There are usually 10 biscuits per can and she will cut eat biscuit into quarters. Do your math and you will get 40 dumplings from one can of biscuits. She puts the dumplings into the broth and cooks them until they are done. She will add the chicken back into the pot and then serve.

2) ) In a frying pan, melt ½ cup butter or margarine. Add some chopped onion and one chopped garlic and cook till transparent. Add ½ cup flour and wisk till mixed. Quickly add your broth or enough milk to make a nice gravy. Add one to two cups of chopped cooked, chicken and simmer on low till the chicken is warm enough to eat. Serve over hot cooked rice or noodles.

3) Use your chicken with Chicken Helper.

4) If you are cooking with whole chickens, put the wings in a freezer bag and use them later for a “hot” wings meal.

Do you see where I am going with this? If you are on a budget you can buy your chicken when it is on sale. I like to check out the mark down bin when I am shopping and see if I can find chicken there. Several months back, I found chicken breasts marked down to 49 cents a pound. I bought about 10 packages and then put it up in individual freezer bags. I have enough chicken to last for a good while. I have been know to buy 50 lbs. at a time and take it home and put it up in meal sized portions in the freezer.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to feed your family. When budgets are tight, get creative.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Where did the money come from?

Does anyone else wonder where the 180 million dollars came from that was used to refurbish the Louisiana Superdome? The streets are still littered with garbage that hasn’t been picked up since the hurricane. Reason given, they can’t afford to do it. Electricity hasn’t been turned back on, in many areas, same reason. Hummmmm……I wonder if there are some priorities that are a little mixed up here. I’m not going to say any more, but I am disgusted!

Well, I decided to go back and read some of the articles about the renovation of the Superdome. I found that many of the people looked at it as a "rebirth" for the city and a ray of hope. What do you think?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What a week this has been……

It’s been a busy week in the Stern household.

Monday started off with my usual trek of picking up bread for the food pantry. It was a very rainy day and I had to wear my poncho to transfer the bread from the store baskets to the trunk of my car. You read in my last blog about the crock pot chicken and how well it turned out. I did some baby sitting and helping Jennifer out, among other things.

Tuesday was a little bit slower in the morning, but the afternoon was full with paying bills, making copies, bank deposits, grocery shopping, and watching the Astros baseball on TV.

Wednesday, I went to the chiropractor with TF to see if they could help him with his back and hip, which wouldn’t move. I also wanted to see Jennifer’s x-rays but ended up not having time. Bonnie has been out of town for the last month working in South Carolina and Utah and I had to pick her up at the airport around 11:30am. Since she was only going to be home around 24 hours, we decided to have a family lunch at Bo Lee’s. Bonnie, me, Jennifer, Justin, TF and baby Jocelyne ate Chinese food and talked up a storm. Bonnie unloaded her dirty clothes and rested before going to get a hair cut and do a few chores. I picked up JJ from kindergarten and he got to spend some time with Aunt Bonnie. It was Temple night for TF and I worked on the computer getting out information on the Hershey Chocolate order and mentioning the Herb and Spice order for November. Bonnie had dinner with a friend and then came home to wash her clothes.

Thursday, Took Bonnie to the airport for her flight to Nebraska, stopping on the way for a prescription, food and a quick trip to the book store so she could buy the John Adams books on tape. We made it to the airport in plenty of time for her to check in and make her flight. I came home and crash on the couch for a couple of hours. The rest of the day I piddled around trying to wash clothes and watch the Astros game.

Friday, I worked in the kitchen and started some clothes washing. Jennifer and her little family were flying into West Palm Beach and then going to drive the rest of the way to Vero Beach, Fl. so that they could visit her grandmother. GG (which stands for Great Grandmother) has not seen Jocelyne yet and she was waiting with eager anticipation to see her precious family. I was the one flagged to drive them to the airport. I wish you could have seen JJ with his Sponge Bob travel bag. He was a real hoot marching around with it. This was my third trip, in three days, to go to the airport. I had another nap in the afternoon and then off to pay more bills, make more copies for a class I was teaching, another stop at the grocery store and etc. We had a church social that I was taking food for and I had to pick up a lady and her daughter who needed a ride. TF had a very busy day and he stayed home and relaxed and watched the Astros game. I was exhausted when I got home and was asleep in no time.

Today I was up by 6:00am. getting things together for the class I was teaching to our church scout troop. I had been asked to teach a class on Buddy Burners and Hobo Stoves. There were about 10 eleven year old boys there to learn. I had some of the boys making the stoves and some of them cutting out card board for the filler for the buddy burners. The stove makers, helped roll the card board and put them in the cans. I worked on melting and pouring the hot wax. All in all, we made 36 buddy burners. I went home and put up my supplied and then took my afternoon nap. What is with these afternoon naps? I had three this week. After nap time, I went to the grocery store of milk and TF’s favorite cereal. TF and I went to Whataburger, in separate cars, for dinner. He headed home to watch the Astros game and I headed to a women’s conference at church. We had some great lessons on how much our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us. The General Relief Society board spoke to us as well as President Gordon B. Hinckley. When I got home, I found that my husband was on the couch suffering with a fever. He took some Tylenol and headed straight for bed. In the mean time a huge thunderstorm was on top of us and it produced a brilliant light show. We had some wind and rain and had the dogs scurrying around looking for a place to hide. It is now a good three hours since the storm went thru and I can still hear thunder outside.

BTW: The Astros beat the Cardinals three games in a row. Roger Clements pitches tomorrow and let's pray for a sweep. We are now 4 games back with 8 games to go. Can we pull it off? It would be great, but it would take a miracle.

I am tired and I better get to bed…..No frugal news from this mom today….. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What is a billion???

What is a billion??? I got this in an email from a friend and thought it worth posting.

The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion"in a casual manner, think about whether you want the "politicians" spending your tax money. A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.
a.) A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
b.) A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
c.) A billion hours ago our ancestors were living intheStone Age.
d.) A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.
e.) A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at therate our government is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain, let's take a look at New Orleans. It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division. Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu (D), is presently asking the Congress for $250 BILLION to rebuild New Orleans. Interesting number, what does it mean?
a.) Well, if you are one of 484,674 residents of NewOrleans (every man, woman, child), you each get $516,528.
b.) Or, if you have one of the 188,251 homes in NewOrleans, your home gets $1,329,787.
c.) Or, if you are a family of four, your family gets$2,066,012.

Washington, D.C .. HELLO!!! ... Are all your calculators broken?? This is too true to be very funny

Tax his land,
Tax his wage,
Tax his bed in which he lays.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes is the rule.

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.
Tax his ties,
Tax his shirts,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.
Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he tries to think.

Tax his booze,
Tax his beers,
If he cries,
Tax his tears.
Tax his bills,
Tax his gas,
Tax his notes,
Tax his cash.
Tax him good and let him know
That after taxes, he has no dough.
If he hollers,
Tax him more,
Tax him until he's good and sore.

Tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he lays.
Put these words upon his tomb,
"Taxes drove me to my doom!"
And when he's gone,
We won't relax,
We'll still be after the inheritance TAX!!

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax),
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax),
Liquor Tax,
Luxury Tax,
Marriage License Tax,
Medicare Tax,
Property Tax,
Real Estate Tax,
Service charge taxes,
Social Security Tax,
Road Usage Tax (Truckers),
Sales Taxes,
Recreational Vehicle Tax,
School Tax,
State Income Tax,
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA),
Telephone Federal Excise Tax,
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax,
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax,
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax,
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax,
Telephone State and Local Tax,
Telephone Usage Charge Tax,
Utility Tax,
Vehicle License Registration Tax,
Vehicle Sales Tax,
Watercraft Registration Tax,
Well Permit Tax,
Workers Compensation Tax.

COMMENTS: Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago. And there was prosperity, absolutely no national debt, The largest middle class in the world and Mom stayed Home to raise the kids. What the hell happened?????

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What kind of surprises can a day bring……

Yesterday was a busy day for me. The morning started off with rain. A cold front was trying to pass thru Houston and it mixed with a little Gulf moisture and it produced a ton of rain. I needed to get out early to pick up the day old bread, from our local grocery store, for our food pantry. Where was my red poncho? I usually keep it in the trunk of my car, but I had cleaned out the car and it was in a box near the front door. I put on the poncho and headed out the door. When I got to the grocery store I noticed that they had put the bread outside in the rain. Oh Boy, this was going to be interesting. I loaded the bread into the trunk as quickly as I could and went on to do some grocery shopping. Chickens were on sale for .47 cents a pound. I bought two for me and two for Felicia. I decided that I had better wait till the rain stopped before delivering the bread so I dropped off groceries to Felicia. I mentioned that I was going to put one of the chickens in the crock pot for dinner. She was so intrigued that she wanted to do it too. I showed her what to do then went home to put my own chicken in.

Here is what I did to my (whole) chicken when I got home. Wash the chicken inside and out. Remove the giblets and liver and set them aside. I poured a small amount of salt in my hand and rubbed it into the cavity of the chicken. Cut one onion into quarters and 3 cloves of fresh garlic into halves. Insert them into the cavity of the chicken. Season the outside of your chicken with your favorite spices and put it into the crock pot. Add the giblets and liver into the pot at this time. You can add 1/4th cup of water to the pan and put on the lid. Turn your pot to low or medium low and cook till done. I put mine on at 10:30am. and it was done by 6:00pm. I cooked a pot of rice and some green beans and dinner was ready Hint: Do NOT open the lid of the crock pot while it is cooking. Each time you open the lid, it adds extra time to the cooking process. I am glad that my new crock pot has a glass lid. I can look inside and see what it looks like without opening the lid. The chicken was really tender and juicy and it only took me about 10 minutes to put together. I love crock pot cooking because I can start a meal in the morning an not have to worry about cooking dinner till later in the day.

Back to my day: When the rain simmered down, I was able to deliver the bread I had picked up. I met a friend at the storehouse and exchanged a few things. I talked to my friends over there for a while and then stopped at another friends house to drop off a few items to her. When I got home from my activities, I found out that I needed to pick JJ up from kindergarten. I got there just in time and we headed back home. He had drawn some pictures at school and he just had to show them to me. A little later we went to pay a bill and then I took him home. His mommy, Jennifer, has been having a series of headaches lately and she had gone to the chiropractor to get an adjustment to see if that would help. While she was there they decided to x-ray her neck. The lady asked her if she had ever had head trama when she was younger. She could only think of one time that she had hit her head as a child. It turns out that, when Jennifer was young, that she had broken her neck. The technician told her, that if the break had been ¼ of an inch lower, that she would have been paralyzed. I couldn’t believe it. How could Jen have broken her neck and we not know about it? All I can say is that God must have been watching over her that day. To me, this is a testimony, that God provides us with miracles.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Recipes for the week from Chet

Chet Day'sHealth & Beyond Cookie Recipe of the Week
Orange Oatmeal Cookies

1/3 cup softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup plain low fat yogurt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 Tbs chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 325 F. Blend butter, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in remaining ingredients. Shape dough by rounded teaspoons into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet; flatten slightly with fork. Bake at 325 F for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove immediately from baking sheet.

Chet Day'sHealth & Beyond Crockpot Recipe of the Week
Green Chili

3-4 lbs lean pork diced
24-30 green chiles cut into strips -- (or 30 oz can)
1 tsp salt1 tsp pepper
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 dash cumin
28 ounces canned tomatoes
16 ounces canned tomoatoes, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 cup water

Brown pork and put in slow cooker with all the juices. Add remaining ingredients cook on low 6 to 8 hours.

Chet Day'sHealth & Beyond Healthy Recipe of the Week
Artichoke Dip

Two 14.5 oz. cans artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dill weed

Combine all ingredients in 1-quart casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Serve with toast rounds and vegetables.

All of these recipes came from

Monday, September 11, 2006

A day that I will never forget…..

There are certain days in our lives that etch a mark on our minds. Those are days that we will never forget. A few that are strong in my mind are:

1) The day before JFK was killed he came to Houston. My mom wanted us to see him and he was coming in at the airport close to our house. Mom took us over to the airport and we were standing only about 15 feet from him and his wife Jackie as they got off the airplane. The next day I was in my PE class at Deady Jr. High school when a voice come over the intercom to announce that President Kennedy had been shot. I was stunned, how could it be, I had just seen him the day before and now he had been shot.

2) I was a young mother the day that the Challenger space shuttle exploded a few minutes after takeoff. I was watching TV and they were showing the lift off. It was going well, when all of a sudden it exploded. I sat there in shock as I watched it happen.

3) A few months later, a school bus filled with children, had been hit by a Dr. Pepper truck and careened off the road and into a lake. All of the children had been killed, not one was able to escape the water and they all drowned. I burst into tears as the news network showed the submerge bus. On the top of the bus was a tennis shoe of one of the children. All I could think about was my own children. I will never be able to get that image out of my mind.

4) Sept 10, 2001 – I had taken my son, William to New Orleans to apply for a job on an offshore oil rig. We arrived home late that night and I slept in the next morning. I woke up the sound of the phone ringing. My friend Pat Beattie asked me if I had been watching the news and I told her I had just woke up. She said, “turn on the news” and then she hung up the phone without saying good by. I turned on the TV, to the NBC news channel, and saw the image of one of the twin towers on fire. An airplane had hit the tower and it was burning. As I stood there watching, a second airplane hit the other tower. One plane hitting a building, it could be an accident. But when that second plane hit I knew it was no accident. My heart went out to all the people inside the building. Again I was in shock by what I saw. I had to go to the store to pick up some meat I was delivering to the cafeteria at the Houston Temple and as I stood in line a voice on an intercom announced that another plane had just hit the pentagon. I was in a bit of a panic wandering, “What next”. I drove over to the Temple to make my delivery and hurried home. I remembered that a friend of mine, from church, had a daughter that worked in one of the towers. I knew that she would be frantic with worry and I said an instant prayer for her daughter. As it turned out, Nicole worked on the second floor of her building and she was able to escape without too much trouble. Some friends of hers from New Jersey took her in and cared for her for several days. Poor Nicole will always be scared from that tragedy. She witnessed several people jumping to their death and she cannot get that image out of her mind. To this day, she will cry at the drop of a hat at the mention of the event. I know that we were all stunned by what had taken place. I pray for the families of those who died or were seriously injured. I hope we, as a nation, never forget what happened.

America has been blessed that we had not had an attack on our homeland since Pearl Harbor. I think we had become complacent and didn’t expect such a vicious attack. Our eyes were opened to a new kind of war, a war of terrorism. I pray that the Lord will protect our country from further attacks. I hope that, we the people, will be vigilant in keeping our land secure.

Some of my blogging friends have done tributes to some of the people who died because of the attack. It has touched my heart in more ways than you can imagine. It has refreshed my thoughts about those firemen and policeman who willingly gave their lives to save others. I looked at pictures of men and women who died, with a little bit of information about who they were, and what they were like. It truly tugged at my heart strings.

I remember getting an email from a friend who had sent me a drawing of God, standing over the twin towers, with his arms opened up. It reminded me that God loves all his children. I hope you all think back to what you were doing on that fateful day and that you never forget it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Assorted Items…….

I have a mish-mash of items to talk about today.

1) I went out and purchased my ham radio. I bought a duel ban UHF/VHF radio. I also got a quarter wave 19’ antenna with a magnet on it that I can just attach to the roof of the car when I want to use my radio while driving. All I have to do now is wait for my call sign and I am all set to transmit.

2) I babysat with my grandkids last night. Jen and Justin wanted to have a night out and asked if I would baby sit. We had a good time, but when it came time to put Jocelyne to bed, I couldn’t figure out what to do with her. I had bought a portable bed, at a garage sale, for her but Jen borrowed it and forgot to bring it back. I finally got her to fall asleep in my arms but she would wake up every time I tried to lay her down. Needless to say, Jocelyne and I were up till 1:10am. this morning when her mommy and daddy finally came to get her. I bet she will be taking a long nap today.

3) Today is TF’s birthday. We plan to go out for a nice dinner tonight and just relax. Tomorrow Jen, Justin and the kids will come over for dinner, cake and ice cream. JJ is already excited about the cake part, he loves cake. Bonnie and William are both out of town and will not make it home for the festivities. I hope they remember to call and wish their dad a happy birthday.

4) I enjoy reading the Food section of the Houston Chronicle and occasionally I will cut out what they call “Fridge Clip” advice. The one I liked recently is called: A dry veggie is a happy veggie. He’s want they have to say. Most refrigerated vegetables do best in a perforated resealable plastic bag (make 6 to 8 holes in a 1-gallon bag). If vegetables were sprayed with water at the market, lining the plastic bag with paper towels will help absorb excess moisture. Wait until just before using to wash vegetables.

The other frig clip that I liked was called: Vegetable oil keeps waffles from sticking. Here it is: How can you keep waffles from sticking to the waffle iron? Scrub the grids well to remove all traces of the solid fat. When they’re dry, brush them with vegetable oil, and heat for five minutes before adding the batter. The girds – even those of nonstick waffle makers – should be brushed with oil before each use. If your waffles still stick, try a different recipe. Waffle batter that doesn’t contain enough fat will stick to the grids.

5) There was a small article in the food section about a new cookbook called: Betty Crocker Win at Weight Loss Cookbook by James Hill. They published one of his recipes and I think it is a winner. Here it is:

Bacon and Tomato Frittata

1 (16 ounce) carton fat-free egg product or 8 eggs.
¼ teaspoon salt-free garlic and herb seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon canola or soybean oil
4 medium green onions, sliced ( ¼ cup )
2 large plum (Roma) tomatoes, sliced
½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese ( 2-ounces)
2 Tablespoons real bacon pieces (from 2.8 ounce package)
2 Tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

In a medium bowl, mix egg product or eggs, seasoning and salt; set aside.
In 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
Add onions; cook and stir 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Pour in egg mixture.
Cook 6 to 9 minutes, gently lifting edges of cooked portions with a spatula so that uncooked egg mixture can flow to the bottom of the skillet, until set.
Top frittata with tomatoes, cheese and bacon.
Broil with top 4 inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top each serving with sour cream.

Makes 4 servings, each (with fat-free egg product): 180 calories, 10 grams total fat(4.5 grams saturated) and 20 milligrams cholesterol.

Since I am supposed to be the “Frugal Living” blog I decided I had better add some good advice from experts on that subject: The Benefits of Dehydrating Produce. Homemade Nutrition drinks. 17 Ways to avoid ID theft on campus. Don’t use future money for past debt. ….. I know several people who are always tapping there 401K’s for money. One friend of mine has three loans on her IRA. How can she be making money when she is always borrowing from it?

Have a great weekend! I’m still here Mountain Mama!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tomorrow is the test……

Yes it’s finally here… ham test! I have been burning the midnight oil studying and learning everything I can so that I can make a good grade on the test. I told TF that “ I AM going to pass this test”. Early in the class, I ordered a book by the ARRL called Q & A for the Tech test. There are 12 different tests that we could be taking and this book has all the test questions with its answers and an explanation of why the answer is correct. I have studied this book inside and out and have reviewed the textbook so that I not only can pass the test but really know what I am doing. I am still working on memorizing the band widths, but by tomorrow morning I will confidently go and pass the test. I have really had a lot of fun with this class. Wish me luck!

Want to see what the tests are like? Check it out here I will be taking the Technician test. Go with the random test.

Update: I passed the test with a score of 91 % YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!